OSHA: Protect HCWs from West Nile blood exposure

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cautioned health care workers that bloodborne exposures could spread West Nile virus.

In an information bulletin, OSHA noted that two laboratory workers handling West Nile-infected fluids or tissues have become infected. Exposures could occur from needlesticks, accidental cuts, or contact with an existing open wound, OSHA said.

OSHA underscored the importance of using safety devices, personal protective equipment including gloves, and in some cases, goggles, gowns, and face shields.

No health care workers have become infected with West Nile Virus after treating patients.

"Nevertheless, health care workers and emergency response personnel must continue to use universal precautions to protect against exposure to human blood and other potentially infectious materials as required by OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1030," OSHA stated in the bulletin.