OSHA Puts Out New Avian Flu Guidance

November 15, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The primary focus of new government guidance about avoiding avian flu from infected birds is on good hygiene, including use of gloves and hand washing.

The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also advised in the new release www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_AvianFlu/avian_flu_guidance_english.pdf that those who work with infected animals or individuals should have proper respiratory protection.

“We encourage employers and employees who are most likely to be exposed to avian flu to take the appropriate precautions,” said OSHA Administrator Ed Foulke. “This guidance offers them practical tips, such as hand washing and the use of proper protective equipment, for preventing illness.”

According to the OSHA document, w ild birds, particularly waterfowl, are natural hosts of avian flu viruses and often show no symptoms; however, some of the viruses can cause high mortality in poultry, including the H5N1 virus. Some strains of avian flu viruses carried by these wild birds can infect domestic fowl and in turn can infect humans, causing fever, cough, sore throat, eye infections and muscle pain, the government said.

Avian flu can also lead to pneumonia, acute respiratory distress, and other severe and life-threatening complications. The most common route of transmission to humans is by contact with contaminated poultry.

The new document updates guidance on avian flu issued by OSHA in 2004 and provides separate recommendations for poultry employees and those who handle other animals and for laboratory employees, health care personnel, food handlers, travelers, and US employees stationed abroad.

The guidance also includes links to helpful Web sites with additional information, and a list of technical articles and resources, including a history on flu pandemics, symptoms and outcomes of various strains of the avian flu, a summary of the bird importation regulations, and details on the transmission of the virus.

For more information on federal activities on avian flu and pandemic flu, please see

The publication, OSHA Guidance Update on Protecting Employees from Avian Flu Viruses, , is available in English and Spanish by visiting the In Focus section on the home page of OSHA’s Web site at www.osha.gov .