The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released interim guidance for managing occupational exposures to the Zika virus for healthcare personnel. The guidance is for facilities to determine when healthcare personnel should be tested for ZIka virus infection following an exposure and includes recommendations for post-exposure management. Zika virus has been detected by viral culture in several different body fluids including (but not limited to) blood, urine, and saliva.
The guidance states that healthcare personnel should adhere to CDC’s Standard Precautions for all patient care activities. If personnel have an occupational exposure while caring for a patient with known or suspected Zika infection, that employee should follow the agency’s procedures including an occupational health assessment for potential exposure to infectious disease including an evaluation for Zika exposure.
The guidance notes that in June 2016, there was a report of possible Zika virus transmission form an infected person to a family member in the United States, but stated that the exact mechanism of transmission and whether the transmission occurred in the home or in a healthcare setting remains unclear.
According the guidance, employers must comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Bloodborne Pathogens standard (29 CFR 1910.1030), or similar OSHA State Plan standards, whenever employees have occupational exposure to blood, body fluids, or other potentially infectious materials.
In general, employees who have been exposed to or have Zika virus infection (symptomatic or asymptomatic) do not require work restrictions but should continue to adhere to Standard Precautions for all patient care activities.