Zika, Ebola Updates Provided at AIHce 2017
Only three occupational cases of mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission have been recorded in the United States, a NIOSH presenter said June 5.
SEATTLE – Good news about two diseases that recently have caused concern in the United States and beyond came in a June 5 educational session here at the AIHce EXP conference. Those in attendance heard from three federal employees who updated them about Zika precautions for employers and employees and training modules on pathogens such as Ebola that have been created to help at-risk employee groups.
Dr. Kerton Victory, Ph.D., an environmental health officer with the NIOSH Emergency Preparedness and Response Office, discussed the agency’s knowledge so far about the Zika virus’ health effects and its spread. CDC and other public health organizations continue to study the virus, outbreaks of which occurred last year in Miami and Brownsville, Texas.
“I think we have done a great job communicating the risk of Zika virus” to the U.S. population and protecting workers, he said, explaining that only three occupational cases of mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission have been recorded in the United States, including a Miami police sergeant who contracted it.
Mosquito control workers, lab workers, health care workers, travel industry workers, business travelers, and outdoor workers are occupations potentially exposed to the virus, he said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on June 2, 2017, lifted the Zika cautionary (yellow) area designation for Miami-Dade County, Florida, because there had been no new cases of local Zika virus transmission identified and no cases under investigation in Miami-Dade County for more than 45 days.Lifting the yellow area designation means there are no longer any travel recommendations related to Zika virus for Miami-Dade County.
Jonathan Rosen and Sharon Beard of NIEHS, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (an NIH agency), explained what its Worker Training Program is doing to train vulnerable worker populations about the potential for exposure to dangerous pathogens including the Ebola virus. The NIEHS Pathogen Safety Data Guide has been trialed with several organizations, including Make the Road New York, Rosen said, explaining that the guide is available free to the public and should be tailored to each specific worker group to be effective.