NIOSH report examines flu in dental practices

By: April 5th, 2011 Email This Post Print This Post

NIOSH has released a Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) report that examined the danger of H1N1 flu transmission in two dental practices—one a general practice, the other a pediatric practice.

During a six-week period, beginning January 2010, NIOSH investigators visited each dental practice four times to collect air and surface samples.

No evidence of H1N1 was found, but seasonal flu was found in the pediatric practice, according to Environmental Assessment for the Presence of Influenza Viruses in Dental Practices.

Worker vaccination rates were low in both practices, which led NIOSH to make the following recommendations:

  • Develop procedures for monitoring and managing employees who are ill and absent
  • Consider developing mechanisms to screen patients for influenza-like symptoms prior to visits and upon arrival with the intent to postpone elective procedures for symptomatic patients
  • Encourage employees to receive the seasonal influenza vaccine and explore the possibility of offering the vaccine at work

Concerning PPE, the HHE report cautions about relying on it as the sole method of protecting employees, as it is the least effective in preventing exposure.

The 40-page report also goes into detail on assessment methods for detecting seasonal and H1N1 flu in the air and on surfaces.

 

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