NIOSH Issues Alert on Protecting Poultry Workers from Avian Flu

NIOSH has issued an alert to protect poultry workers from avian influenza (bird flu). Although human infection with avian influenza viruses is rare, workers infected with certain types of these viruses may become ill or die, NIOSH says. The alert focuses primarily on H5N1, the highly pathogenic form of the virus, and notes that as of February 2008, H5N1 has not been detected in the United States. It adds, however, that H5N1 can be spread from one location to another through migrating birds and the legal/illegal trade in poultry and other birds, as well as their products.

The alert says workers should be aware of the signs of H5N1 in poultry. These include: sudden death without clinical signs or symptoms; lack of coordination; lack of energy and appetite; soft-shelled or misshapen eggs; decreased egg production; purple discoloration of the wattles, combs, and legs; swelling of the head, eyelids, combs, wattles, and hocks; diarrhea; nasal discharge; and coughing and sneezing. The alert advises workers to report sick or dying birds immediately. Between late 2003 and January 24, 2008, 353 human cases of H5N1 were reported to the World Health Organization, the alert says, adding that 221 of the cases were fatal. No human cases have been reported within North, Central, or South America.

NIOSH released this February 2008 alert in the same month the National Chicken Council issued a press release noting that the injuries and illnesses rate among America's poultry processing workers has reached its lowest level ever and is below the rate found in food manufacturing in general. NCC represents integrated chicken producer-processors and its members account for about 95 percent of the chicken sold in the United States. The alert also appears in the same month The Charlotte Observer has published a six-part special report called "The Cruelest Cut" that shows a different, much less flattering side of the poultry business--the result of a 22-month investigation that found serious injuries going unreported and other safety violations.

To view the NIOSH alert, visit http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2008-113/pdfs/2008-113.pdf. To read The Charlotte Observer series, visit www.charlotte.com. And to obtain the Bureau of Labor Statistics data on which NCC based its report, go to http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshsum.htm.

Download Center

  • Safety Metrics Guide

    Is your company leveraging its safety data and analytics to maintain a safe workplace? With so much data available, where do you start? This downloadable guide will give you insight on helpful key performance indicators (KPIs) you should track for your safety program.

  • Job Hazard Analysis Guide

    This guide includes details on how to conduct a thorough Job Hazard Analysis, and it's based directly on an OSHA publication for conducting JHAs. Learn how to identify potential hazards associated with each task of a job and set controls to mitigate hazard risks.

  • A Guide to Practicing “New Safety”

    Learn from safety professionals from around the world as they share their perspectives on various “new views” of safety, including Safety Differently, Safety-II, No Safety, Human and Organizational Performance (HOP), Resilience Engineering, and more in this helpful guide.

  • Lone Worker Safety Guide

    As organizations digitalize and remote operations become more commonplace, the number of lone workers is on the rise. These employees are at increased risk for unaddressed workplace accidents or emergencies. This guide was created to help employers better understand common lone worker risks and solutions for lone worker risk mitigation and incident prevention.

  • EHS Software Buyer's Guide

    Learn the keys to staying organized, staying sharp, and staying one step ahead on all things safety. This buyer’s guide is designed for you to use in your search for the safety management solution that best suits your company’s needs.

  • Vector Solutions

Featured Whitepaper

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - July August 2022

    July / August 2022

    Featuring:

    • CONFINED SPACES
      Specific PPE is Needed for Entry and Exit
    • HAZARD COMMUNICATION
      Three Quick Steps to Better HazCom Training
    • GAS DETECTION
      Building a Chemical Emergency Toolkit
    • RESPIRATORY PROTECTION
      The Last Line of Defense
    View This Issue