The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released its “Interim Guidance for Managers and Workers Handling Untreated Sewage from Individuals with Ebola in the United States.” This interim guidance is intended for workers who handle untreated sewage that comes from hospitals, medical facilities, and other facilities with confirmed individuals with Ebola. It provides recommendations on the types of personal protective equipment (PPE) to be used and proper hygiene for the safe handling of untreated sewage that may contain Ebola virus. The CDC indicates the interim guidance can be used to reduce the workers’ risk of exposure to infectious agents including Ebola virus when working with untreated sewage.
- Ebola virus is more fragile than many enteric viruses that cause diarrheal disease or hepatitis.
- The envelope that covers Ebola makes it more susceptible to environmental stresses and to chemical germicides than non-enveloped viruses, such as hepatitis A, poliovirus, and norovirus.
- Use PPE to protect broken skin and mucous membranes and properly use the PPE, including how to put it on and take it off.
- Develop and fully implement routine protocols that ensure workers are protected against potential exposures (i.e., prevent contact with broken skin, eyes, nose or mouth) when handling untreated sewage.
- Ensure all workers always practice good personal hygiene, including frequent hand washing to reduce potential exposures to any of the pathogens in sewage.