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PPE for Avian Flu Protection

Avian Flu Personal Protection

Many people have concerns about the spread of avian flu. Avian influenza is a viral disease that can cause sickness and death among poultry. Concern is growing over the avian influenza virus being transmitted to poultry workers or others who come in contact with infected poultry or contact with contaminated surfaces. Even more public health concerns exist over the possible epidemics resulting from human-to-human passage of the virus. To help control the spread of avian flu, use proper PPE and follow the safety precautions below.

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1. Hand Washing
2. Wear Personal Protective Equipment
2A. Respiratory Protection
2B. Eye Protection
2C. Hand Protection
2D. Protective Clothing
2E. PPE Decontamination


1. Hand Washing
The first step for basic infection control is having suitable hand-washing facilities and a good supply of soap and disposable towels available. Before removing their gloves, workers should wash their gloved hands thoroughly with soap and water for 15-20 seconds. After removing the gloves, they should wash their hands again. In addition to hand washing, workers should also be informed about the methods of infection and wear the proper personal protective equipment.

2. Wear Personal Protective Equipment
Because most cases of avian influenza virus infection in humans are thought to have resulted from contact with infected poultry or contacting contaminated surfaces followed by self-inoculation of the virus into the eyes, nose or mouth, wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) can prevent the spread of the infection. Other means of transmission are possible, such as airborne material containing the virus entering a person's mouth, nose, eyes or lungs.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommend the following personal protective equipment (PPE) for those who are concerned about exposure to the avian flu virus.

2A. Respiratory Protection
Workers should always remove protective clothing (except for gloves) first and discard or secure the clothing for disinfection before removing their respirators and goggles. It is important that workers understand the importance of hand washing after contacting infected or potentially infected birds or surfaces that might be contaminated.

2B. Eye Protection
Eye protection will reduce direct exposure of the eyes to contaminated dust and aerosols and help keep workers from touching their eyes with contaminated fingers. To prevent the mucous membranes of the eyes from being exposed to the avian influenza virus, poultry workers should wear safety goggles or a respirator that has a full-face piece, hood or helmet. If safety goggles are worn, they should be non-vented or, at a minimum, indirectly vented.

2C. Hand Protection
Use disposable gloves made of nitrile or vinyl that are lightweight (a thickness of 8 to 12 mil) or gloves that are heavy duty (a thickness of 15 mil or greater) that can be reused after being disinfected.

2D. Protective Clothing
Protective clothing, which includes gloves, coveralls, and boots or boot covers, should be used to prevent direct skin contact with contaminated materials and surfaces and reduce the likelihood of transferring contaminated material outside a poultry barn or work-site. Disposable protective coveralls are preferred. Disposable protective shoe covers or rubber or PVC boots that can be cleaned and disinfected should be worn.

2E. PPE Decontamination
Protective clothing, which includes gloves, coveralls, and boots or boot covers, should be used to prevent direct skin contact with contaminated materials and surfaces and reduce the likelihood of transferring contaminated material outside a poultry barn or work-site. Disposable protective coveralls are preferred. Disposable protective shoe covers or rubber or PVC boots that can be cleaned and disinfected should be worn.

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