Provided by Smart Training

Concerns have arisen over the emergence of avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu, in Texas.

While the current strain detected in Texas has not shown widespread transmission to humans,1 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises healthcare professionals to remain vigilant for patients presenting with symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, and muscle aches; especially if they had recent contact with birds or poultry.

Here are two things to do now to ensure you’re not caught unprepared, should the situation change.

Maintain a Respiratory Protection Program

CDC issued clinical recommendations to mitigate the spread of the virus, and emphasized the importance of maintaining a Respiratory Protection Program (RPP) for all healthcare settings.

These programs are essential in case the situation escalates and ensures healthcare workers have access to appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent exposure to airborne pathogens.

Respiratory protection programs include:

  • Fit testing for N95 respirators
  • Training on proper use and maintenance of PPE
  • Medical evaluations (Appendix D)
  • Written protocols for assessing and managing potential exposures

These plans were made mandatory by OSHA during the pandemic, and wise practices continue to maintain them in the event they once more become required. Taking proactive measures like maintaining a RPP are critical for emergency preparedness and response.

Stay informed on CDC recommendations.

Healthcare providers should stay informed on CDC recommendations. Following is a list of resources that will help.

CDC Clinical Recommendations
Human Infection with Avian Influenza A Virus: Information for Health Professionals and Laboratorians | Avian Influenza (Flu) (cdc.gov)

CDC Avian Influenza Interim Guidance for Healthcare Professionals
Interim Guidance for Infection Control Within Healthcare Settings When Caring for Confirmed Cases, Probable Cases, and Cases Under Investigation for Infection with Novel Influenza A Viruses Associated with Severe Disease | Avian Influenza (Flu) (cdc.gov)

OSHA Respiratory Protection Program
training-library_major_requirements.pdf (osha.gov)

If you’re unsure if your practice has a written Respiratory Protection Program containing the proper protocols and procedures, reach out to the experts at Smart Training today. While Avian Flu may not be the next pandemic, recent events make the absence of a program inexcusable.

1CDC update: Human Infection with Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza A(H5N1) Virus in Texas