Collaborating to Protect Against Infectious Disease

Speaker Aurora Le at AIHce EXP 2018 emphasized the dangers of highly infectious diseases.

"Highly Infectious Diseases of IH and Public Health Significance," an education session that took place May 21 at the 2018 American Industrial Hygiene Conference & Expo, was timely. Presenter Aurora Le from the Indiana University School of Public Health at Bloomington spoke on highly infectious diseases and the lessons industrial hygiene professionals can take from the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak.

There are a number of infectious diseases of significance to public health, Le said, adding that they're more common than people may think. She said that with emerging and re-emerging diseases, there is a real opportunity for industrial hygiene professionals to step up in this field.

Le stressed that infectious diseases are hazardous and relevant to the industrial hygiene industry not only because of the biological hazards they present to workers, but because they require a certain level of coordination and emergency preparedness and response. These diseases also have economic implications for communities, and health care employees must be able to work in a safe environment.

Le's research focused on the action and response to the 2014-2016 West Africa Ebola outbreak, noting a lack of sustainable standard operating procedures for handling an infectious disease situation like that. She emphasized that no matter the disease, there are several points of consideration to take when handling the industrial hygiene side of an outbreak, including the average incubation period, PPE recommended precautions, and communicability.

Le noted an increase in multidisciplinary teams and said that individuals with different expertise should work together on an effective plan to implement in regard to industrial hygiene and highly infectious diseases. For example, a team could consist of an industrial hygienist, a safety professional, an occupational health nurse, an occupational medicine physician, and an expert on a specific highly infectious disease.

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