Workplace exposures

Report highlights gaps in U.S. infection control

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Washington – The Ebola outbreak is a “major wake-up call” that highlights gaps in the United States’ management and containment of severe diseases, concludes a new report from the nonprofits Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The Dec. 18 report examines U.S. policies on several ongoing and emerging infectious disease threats, including seasonal flu, HIV and antibiotic resistance. Regarding the Ebola outbreak, the report cited a medical expert who said the United States waited until the disease arrived in the country before taking serious steps to protect health care workers.

Two nurses contracted Ebola in the United States while caring for patients with the disease, but both survived.

Other highlights from the report:

  • Nearly one-quarter of health care workers were not vaccinated against the flu in 2013 and 2014.
  • Needle exchange programs are effective at limiting the spread of several diseases, thereby protecting first responders and health care workers.
  • To ensure workers are protected from exposure to deadly contagions, health care facilities should have standard procedures in place with infection control principles, sufficient personal protective equipment and thorough training.