More information About Ebola
Guidance for sewer and water workers
CDC information for wastewater personnel
CDC is preparing Ebola-related guidance on wastewater worker safety titled Interim Guidance for Workers Handling Untreated Sewage from Ebola Cases in the United States to address basic hygiene practices, personal protective equipment (PPE) use, and PPE disposal actions. The guidance is expected to provide recommendations and protocols for:
- workers who perform sewer maintenance
- construction workers who repair or replace live sewers
- workers who clean portable toilets
CDC has stated that the guidance review would be expedited and indicated that guidance could be released in November.
Informative webinar by national water and wastewater organizations
The webcast recording for the November 4, 2014 Water Environment Research Foundation and Water Environment Federation webinar is available at: www.wef.org/EbolaWastewaterConcerns and the handouts are at: www.wef.org/EbolaHandouts. A summary of possible sewage worker protections is provided below.
Ebola virus is spread person-to-person through direct contact with bodily fluids (such as blood, vomit, diarrhea, urine, sweat, semen, saliva, and breast milk). The incubation period is usually 8–10 days (range 2–21 days). People can transmit the virus when they have a fever and through later stages of disease, including postmortem. People are not contagious until symptomatic.
- CDC reports that Ebola is not spread through the air or by water: www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/transmission/index.html
- CDC has indicated sanitary sewers may be used for the safe disposal of patient waste: www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/hcp/environmental-infection-control-in-hospitals.html
Ebola and wastewater
CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) indicate sanitary sewers may be used for the safe disposal of patient wastes (e.g., feces, urine, vomit, and liquid waste from washing).
Sewage workers need personal protection when working in sewers. A large number of viruses and bacteria are already present in raw sewage wastewater (http://aem.asm.org/content/75/5/1402.full). Although specific data on Ebola persistence in sewage is not currently available, the Ebola virus belongs to a group of viruses that are generally less resistant to the environment outside the body (more easily inactivated) than others, such as norovirus.
The Water Environment Research Foundation and Water Environment Federation webinar provided the following information for recommended protection of sewage workers:
Use Appropriate PPE to protect against contact with human wastes
- Goggles or face shield: to protect eyes from splashes of untreated sewage
- Face mask (e.g., surgical mask): to protect nose and mouth from splashes of human waste. If undertaking cleaning processes that generate aerosols, a NIOSH-approved N95 respirator should be used.
- Impermeable or fluid-resistant coveralls: to keep untreated sewage off clothing
- Waterproof gloves (such as rubber) to prevent exposure of hands to untreated sewage
- Rubber boots: to prevent exposure of feet to untreated sewage
Basic hygiene practices
- Wash skin with soap and water immediately after handling sewage, or any materials that have been in contact with sewage.
- Avoid touching face, mouth, eyes, nose, or open sores and cuts while handling sewage, or any materials that have been in contact with sewage.
- Wash your hands with soap and water before eating or drinking after you have handled sewage.
- Remove soiled work clothes and do not take home to launder. Launder clothing at work or use a uniform service.
- Eat in designated areas away from untreated sewage.
- Do not smoke or chew tobacco or gum while handling human waste or sewage, or any materials that have been in contact with sewage.
- Cover open sores, cuts, and wounds with clean, dry bandages.
- As part of planning, hospitals should coordinate with the individual sanitation district that serves the hospital.
- Wastewater collection and sanitation districts are encouraged to develop, review, and exercise internal programs for risk management and continuity of operations including training and review of personal protective equipment (PPE) inventory.
- The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has general Ebola guidance focused on workplace safety and health at www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/ebola.
- The U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration recently posted a new guidance about cleaning surfaces that have come in contact with the Ebola virus. The document, Cleaning and Decontamination of Ebola on Surfaces, provides guidance on protecting workers in non-healthcare/non-laboratory settings from exposure to Ebola and cleaning and disinfection chemicals. The guidance can be found at www.osha.gov/SLTC/ebola/control_prevention.html. Additional OSHA information is available at: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/ebola/additionalinformation.html.
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed a list of registered disinfectants that meet the CDC criteria for use against the Ebola virus on hard, non-porous surfaces, available at: http://www.epa.gov/oppad001/list-l-ebola-virus.html.
(Adapted from the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment)
For more information, please contact the Health Department at 612-673-2301 or [email protected]
Last updated Aug 26, 2016