This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.
New CDC Ebola recommendations for environmental cleaning
March 18th, 2015
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its Ebola infection control guidelines to include a new section on cleaning and disinfection of the patient environment.
Hospitals admitting a suspect or confirmed case linked to the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa should be aware that the virus can be transmitted through direct contact with blood or body fluids/substances (e.g., urine, feces, vomit) of an infected person with symptoms or through exposure to objects (such as needles) that have been contaminated with infected blood or body fluids, the CDC reminded.
“The role of the environment in transmission has not been established,” the CDC stated. “Limited laboratory studies under favorable conditions indicate that Ebola virus can remain viable on solid surfaces, with concentrations falling slowly over several days.1, 2 In the only study to assess contamination of the patient care environment during an outbreak, virus was not detected in any of 33 samples collected from sites that were not visibly bloody. However, virus was detected on a blood-stained glove and bloody intravenous insertion site.”3
There is no epidemiologic evidence of Ebola virus transmission via either the environment or fomites that could become contaminated during patient care (e.g., bed rails, door knobs, laundry), the CDC noted.
“However, given the apparent low infectious dose, potential of high virus titers in the blood of ill patients, and disease severity, higher levels of precaution are warranted to reduce the potential risk posed by contaminated surfaces in the patient care environment,” the CDC advised.
CDC recommendations for environmental infection control include:
- Be sure environmental services staff wear recommended personal protective equipment including, at a minimum, disposable gloves, gown (fluid resistant/ impermeable), eye protection (goggles or face shield), and facemask to protect against direct skin and mucous membrane exposure of cleaning chemicals, contamination, and splashes or spatters during environmental cleaning and disinfection activities. Additional barriers (e.g., leg covers, shoe covers) should be used as needed. If reusable heavy-duty gloves are used for cleaning and disinfecting, they should be disinfected and kept in the room or anteroom. Be sure staff are instructed in the proper use of personal protective equipment including safe removal to prevent contaminating themselves or others in the process, and that contaminated equipment is disposed of as regulated medical waste.
- Use a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered hospital disinfectant with a label claim for a non-enveloped virus (e.g., norovirus, rotavirus, adenovirus, poliovirus) to disinfect environmental surfaces in rooms of patients with suspected or confirmed Ebola virus infection. Although there are no products with specific label claims against the Ebola virus, enveloped viruses such as Ebola are susceptible to a broad range of hospital disinfectants used to disinfect hard, non-porous surfaces. In contrast, non-enveloped viruses are more resistant to disinfectants. As a precaution, selection of a disinfectant product with a higher potency than what is normally required for an enveloped virus is being recommended at this time. EPA-registered hospital disinfectants with label claims against non-enveloped viruses (e.g., norovirus, rotavirus, adenovirus, poliovirus) are broadly antiviral and capable of inactivating both enveloped and non-enveloped viruses.
- Avoid contamination of reusable porous surfaces that cannot be made single use. Use only a mattress and pillow with plastic or other covering that fluids cannot get through. Do not place patients with suspected or confirmed Ebola virus infection in carpeted rooms and remove all upholstered furniture and decorative curtains from patient rooms before use.
- To reduce exposure among staff to potentially contaminated textiles (cloth products) while laundering, discard all linens, non-fluid-impermeable pillows or mattresses, and textile privacy curtains as a regulated medical waste.
- Sagripanti JL, Rom AM, Holland LE. Persistence in darkness of virulent alphaviruses, Ebola virus, and Lassa virus deposited on solid surfaces. Arch Virol 2010; 155:2035-2039
- Sagripanti JL, Lytle DC. Sensitivity to ultraviolet radiation of Lassa, vaccinia, and Ebola viruses dried on surfaces. Arch Virol 2011; 156:489–494
- Bausch DG et al. Assessment of the Risk of Ebola Virus Transmission from Bodily Fluids and Fomites J of Infect Dis 2007; 196:S142–S147