Lab worker threatened from Ebola exposures

OSHA Healthcare Connection, April 7, 2009

A life-threatening needlestick to a researcher in Germany and new fact sheets sponsored by OSHA show that you cannot take laboratory safety for granted.

On March 12, a lab worker’s accidental needlestick exposed her to the deadly Ebola virus which required immediate hospitalization and surveillance. African hemorrhagic fever is one of the world's most feared diseases, killing up to 90% of victims, according to the Associated Press.

Within 24 hours, the international research community had arranged for the worker to receive an experimental vaccine form Canada that had never before been tried on humans, reports the Associated Press.

The 45-year-old female worker eventually passed the critical 21-day incubation period without signs of illness and was released from Hamburg hospital.
Coincidental with that episode, OSHA and the American Biological Safety Association announced the development of fact sheets for laboratory worker safety.
“Select Agent Diseases” lists symptoms, transmission methods, and treatments for common bacteria and viruses that have the potential to pose a major threat to public health and safety, including African hemorrhagic fever.

For more information on the fact sheets, see the “New fact sheets for lab workers” at OSHA Healthcare Advisor.

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