Exposure to Respiratory Infectious Diseases

Occupational Health Clinic
September 27, 2011

Health care workers may encounter patients who have diseases that are spread through close contact. Exposures can occur during the initial evaluation of a patient prior to diagnosis. The use of protective gear can prevent exposures when instituted early.

Some of the most common infections include:

  • Pertussis (whooping cough)
  • Varicella (chicken pox)
  • Tuberculosis
  • Meningococcal infections
  • Measles

As soon as you suspect a patient has an infectious disease, place the patient on appropriate isolation precautions and contact Infection Prevention (IP) at 936-0725. Infection Prevention will determine if the diagnosis is confirmed and the dates that the patient is considered infectious.

The Occupational Health plan for evaluating and treating exposed faculty/staff includes the following procedures:

  • Clinical Managers will be consulted to identify all exposed faculty/staff when a case is confirmed.
  • Each exposed faculty/staff will be evaluated and counseled by the Occupational Health Clinic (OHC) and provided treatment if indicated.
  • Occupational exposures must be reported, treated and tracked according to federal and state regulations.
  • OHC follows CDC guidelines for treating exposures.

Rarely an exposed faculty/staff member will be placed on a temporary leave of absence until the risk of developing or spreading an infection has passed.

Note: An OHC Nurse Practitioner is available 24 hours a day (936-0955) to provide prophylaxis for all confirmed exposures. Do not treat yourself or provide treatment to coworkers. Any treatment for exposures must be authorized by the Occupational Health Clinic to qualify for Workers Compensation coverage.

Keywords: pertussis, whooping cough, tuberculosis, TB, varicella, chickenpox, meningococcal, meningitis, infectious disease