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Macrophages and lethal toxin Lethal toxin is responsible for the massive shock and death associated with systemic anthrax. Conclusion Current concepts place the protease action of LeTx as a critical step in systemic anthrax pathologies. Cataldi, A. Molecular Microbiology , 4 , Google Scholar.
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Returning user. Request Username Can't sign in? Forgot your username? Enter your email address below and we will send you your username. Specific guidance for healthcare workers, below, also describes BA exposure resulting from contact with contaminated patients e. Healthcare workers HCWs in hospitals, clinics, and other settingsmay have exposure to BA resulting from contact with spores that may contaminate a patient's skin, clothing, or personal effects, or through contact with contaminated equipment. HCWs may also be at risk of inhaling BA spores that are re-aerosolized put back into the air from contaminated patients or if they are in an area where a BA release has occurred.
In addition to the General Guidance, applicable to all workers, provided at the beginning of this page, OSHA recommends the following controls for HCWs serving as first receivers of patients potentially exposed to BA. HCWs and their employers involved in emergency response operations outside healthcare facilities should also consult the First Responders section of this web page. Because anthrax is not generally transmissible from person to person, the engineering controls typically making up the first line of defense for other infectious agents usually are not required when treating patients with possible BA exposure.
The exception is when there is visible evidence of powder on the patient that requires decontamination. In such cases, isolate the patient in an airborne infection isolation room AIIR until decontamination is completed. Morgues often have ventilation isolation to prevent mixing of airflow with other area systems and are a good option for use as decontamination rooms.
Use barriers, such as sheets or disposable coveralls, to prevent spread of the BA spores until completion of decontamination procedures. This is discussed further in the "Administrative controls" section, below. For small-scale i. This includes changing gloves after direct patient care and before touching anything else; washing hands thoroughly with non-antibacterial or -antimicrobial soap at completion of direct patient contact and procedures; and decontamination, disinfection and proper disposal of PPE, bedding and other items potentially contaminated by a patient. See the General Guidance section for more information on standard precautions.
Follow contact precautions, as well, particularly if the patient has uncontained drainage from skin lesions. If the patient requires decontamination, restrict the number of personnel entering the room until completion of decontamination procedures. In addition to using AIIRs, first-receiver facilities may also consider implementing policies that include covering contaminated patients in an outer garment e.
Clean and disinfect rooms and bedside equipment of patients with anthrax infections using the same procedures used for all patients as an element of recognized good infection control practices, unless the amount of environmental contamination indicates a need for special cleaning. See the General Guidance for cleaning and disinfection for recommendations on disinfection of environmental surfaces and noncritical patient care equipment potentially contaminated with BA.
When handling cases of cutaneous anthrax, sterilize surgical tools immediately after use and incinerate dressings. The CDC Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities, provides practices for disinfection and sterilization of surfaces and equipment in healthcare settings. Handle all waste as regulated medical waste and place it in red biohazard bags. Under the HMR, waste potentially contaminated with BA, including PPE and other materials associated with patient care activities, generally does not contain a Category A infectious substance unless it includes cultures of BA.
In cases requiring contact precautions, put on PPE when entering a patient care area and discard it prior to exiting. For medical and support staff not directly involved in patient contact, wear gloves even though the risk of transmission is low. OSHA's non-mandatory Best Practices for Hospital-Based First Receivers of Victims from Mass Casualty Incidents Involving the Release of Hazardous Substances offers recommendations for selecting respiratory protection to protect HCWs during the receipt of contaminated victims from mass casualty incidents occurring at locations other than the hospital.
See the General Guidance section for information on worker training. Department of Labor Exposure can result in severe infections. While a laboratory-acquired infection with anthrax is rare, blood, drainage from skin lesions, cerebrospinal brain and spinal cord fluid, pleural membranes that line the lungs fluid, and sputum may all contain BA. Follow good infection control practices to prevent or minimize transmission of anthrax as specified in the general guidance above. Decontaminate working surfaces, including those within biosafety cabinets, after each use and dispose of supplies and equipment in proper receptacles.
Avoid touching the face, including any mucous membranes, such as the eyes, nose, or mouth, or any exposed skin with hands gloved or ungloved. Never eat, drink, smoke, or apply cosmetics in the laboratory. Adhere to applicable federal, state, and local regulations when disposing of laboratory waste.
Note: Federal regulations require laboratories in healthcare facilities to retain the on-site capability of destroying discarded cultures and stocks if they isolate any microorganism or toxin identified as a Select Agent from a clinical specimen. Healthcare facilities transferring the isolated cultures to a facility registered to accept such agents, including BA , in accordance with federal regulations are exempt from the requirement.
State medical waste regulations may prevent this transfer if the cultures are determined to be medical waste since most states regulate the inter-facility transfer of untreated medical wastes. Immediately report to management, any incidents or accidents involving potential or actual exposure to anthrax, as well as development of symptoms consistent with cutaneous or inhalation anthrax. Implement appropriate protocols for handling, storing, and shipping specimens and ensure adherence by all laboratory workers.
The following CDC guidelines may provide additional details on packaging and shipping procedures for anthrax samples:. Laboratories should ensure that their facilities and precautions meet the appropriate Biosafety Level BSL for the type of work conducted in the lab. Increasing BSLs involves more worker training, higher levels of containment of samples and other sources of pathogens, specially designed air handling systems, additional worker PPE, and other stricter controls.
For example, BSL-2 practices limit access to laboratories and other controlled work areas during work operations and during use of biosafety cabinets BSCs or other containment equipment for certain procedures. At BSL-3, in addition to controlling access to laboratories and work areas, all work involving infectious materials is conducted in BSCs or other containment equipment.
The following sections from BMBL guidance may be particularly relevant to employers and workers if their workplaces contain BA:. Also, see the recommendations on disinfection of environmental surfaces and noncritical patient-care equipment potentially contaminated with BA contained in the General Guidance section. Train workers on proper laboratory safety and health procedures and adherence to guidelines; test competency of workers in appropriate implementation of these procedures and guidelines, including appropriate use of engineering controls and PPE; conduct refresher training on a routine basis; and verify consistent adherence to the safety and health procedures and guidelines.
In addition to the recommendations outlined in the General Guidance section, engineering controls, administrative controls, work practices, and PPE needed when working with samples known to contain or suspected of containing BA vary between clinical and research laboratories. The following sections on Clinical and Research Laboratories outline controls specific for each setting. Use Class II BSCs or other containment equipment for all procedures with potential for infectious aerosol or splash creation. Class II BSCs use airflow into the front of the cabinet to keep potentially contaminated air and materials i.
For all centrifugation, use aerosol-tight rotors and open within the BSC after each run. BSL-2 is appropriate for handling moderate-risk agents that cause human disease of varying severity by ingestion or through percutaneous or mucous membrane exposure. Conduct clinical laboratory work on samples from patients with suspected or confirmed anthrax at BSL-2, as a minimum. Use BSL-2 practices for work on samples from patients with suspected or confirmed anthrax.
PPE for clinical laboratory workers handling BA specimens include gloves vinyl or nitrile and laboratory coats. Use eye protection e. Almost all if not all work that could generate aerosols should be done in an appropriate BSC; use appropriate respiratory protection if aerosol generation outside of a containment device is possible. As per BSL-2 precautions, train laboratory personnel in handling pathogenic agents with supervisors competent in handling infectious agents and associated procedures.
Train all laboratory personnel on any additional procedures developed by the employer for safely handling clinical specimens from patients with known or suspected anthrax and research specimens. This includes training on the communication procedures in effect between the clinical and laboratory staff to ensure timely notification and proper labeling of known or suspected BA-contaminated specimens.
Use Vertebrate Animal Biosafety Level Criteria ABSL-2 practices, containment equipment, and facilities for studies involving experimentally infected laboratory rodents. Use Class III BSCs for work involving high concentrations of cultures, for screening environmental samples especially powders from anthrax-contaminated locations, and for activities with a high potential for aerosol production. Class III BSCs are gas-tight enclosures incorporated with gloves, non-opening windows, and mechanisms for decontaminating equipment and samples.
Limit access to the animal facility. Use BSL-3 facilities for work involving high concentrations of cultures, for screening environmental samples especially powders from anthrax-contaminated locations, and for activities with a high potential for aerosol production.
See the Medical Information page for more details.
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See the Training section, below, for information about worker training. Wear laboratory coats, gowns, or uniforms when working in laboratories handling BA-infected rodents to prevent contamination of personal clothing. Wear nitrile or vinyl gloves to prevent skin contact with BA-contaminated materials, and when handling animals. Gloves for workers handling animals that may bite should also provide bite protection. Use eye, face, and respiratory protection in rooms containing infected rodents, based on the risk of exposure. PPE for research laboratory workers may include dedicated work clothing, such as surgical scrubs under PPE, dedicated washable footwear, double gloves, face protection, eye protection e.
The WHO resource, Laboratory Biosafety Manual - Third Edition , contains additional practical guidance on biosafety techniques for use in laboratories at all levels. OSHA's Laboratory Safety Guidance contains an entire chapter on biological hazards, including anthrax which employers and laboratory workers may find useful.
CDC Workers involved in emergency response operations to intentional or accidental releases of BA are also at risk of exposure. In addition to the General Guidance , applicable to all workers, and provided at the beginning of this page, OSHA also recommends the following controls for first responders:. Place impermeable physical barriers or use other methods to isolate contaminated areas and objects. Implement dust control measures, such as water mist, if needed to reduce the risk of re-aerosolization of settled infectious materials. Minimize air flow as much as possible in the patient compartment.
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Vehicles that have separate driver and patient compartments and can provide separate ventilation to these areas are preferred for transport of these types of patients. If a vehicle without separate compartments and ventilation is used, the outside air vents in the driver compartment should be open, and the rear, exhaust ventilation fans turned on at the highest setting to provide a gradient of negative pressure in the patient care compartment.
Follow standard precautions as well as contact and aerosol precautions, as appropriate, based on work tasks and visible evidence of powder on the patient. If possible, decontaminate patients before transporting them for medical care in order to reduce contamination of ambulances, other transport vehicles, and receiving facilities. Avoid activities that increase air movement and potentially re-disperse settled spores into the air.
Sharing of information during transfer of patient care from the medical transport team to HCWs in a receiving facility is critical for effective infection prevention and control. When transporting a patient with visible evidence of powder on skin or clothing, transport workers need to convey this information to the receiving healthcare facility in advance, if possible, or immediately upon arrival to ensure that the receiving facility is ready to implement appropriate isolation and decontamination procedures.
Decontaminate vehicles as soon as possible after transporting a patient with suspected anthrax or BA exposure. See the General Guidance on cleaning and disinfection provided. When cleaning the interior of ambulances and other transport vehicles, do not use compressed air or water sprays, as these techniques may re-aerosolize anthrax spores.
Clean and disinfect patient-care compartments including stretchers, railings, medical equipment, control panels, and flooring, walls and work surfaces in accordance with recommendations for disinfection specified in the General Guidance section. Ensure that facilities are available for decontaminating workers responding to an anthrax release.
Depending on the level of contamination, this may require establishment of a decontamination line. For isolated releases, facilities for showering and changing clothes after response and clean-up activities may be sufficient. If at all possible, remove shoes prior to leaving the worksite and launder clothes on site using detergent and hot water. Avoid laundering potentially contaminated clothing at home to prevent taking BA spores home.
The type of personal protective equipment PPE needed for effective protection depends on different response situations, what is known or unknown about the situation, and the potential risk. As stated above, the HAZWOPER standard is performance-oriented and requires the selection and use of PPE to be proportional to the anticipated risk of exposure and appropriate to the nature of the anticipated hazard. For example, security personnel are first responders if their task involves securing the area where there is a suspected release of BA spores.
These workers may be first responders at either the "awareness" or the "operations" level depending on the tasks involved. Security personnel required to close doors, physically isolate the area, or take any other defensive action fall under the "first responders at the operations level. When there is an ongoing release of BA spores from an aerosol-generating device or when the agent is unknown, workers need higher levels of protection, such as chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear CBRN -rated self-contained breathing apparatus SCBAs.
Depending on their specific tasks, first responders may need some level of protection from dermal exposure, such as disposable hooded coveralls, gloves, and foot coverings.
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In some settings, however, changing the outer layer of clothing may be sufficient. EMS workers involved in direct patient care should use the same PPE recommended for healthcare workers throughout triage and transport of a patient with suspected exposure to BA. Responders riding in the patient compartment of the vehicle should wear an N respirator or higher if there is visible evidence of powder on the patient. If the driver compartment cannot be closed off from the patient-care compartment, drivers also need to wear N or higher respirators.
Drivers assisting with direct patient care, including moving patients on stretchers, should wear all other recommended PPE for healthcare workers. Employers should monitor the driver's use of respirators to ensure that the respirator does not restrict the worker's ability to operate a vehicle safely. When patient care is completed or when items are soiled or damaged, remove and discard PPE in accord with procedures for handling infectious waste, described in the General Guidance section.
Personnel who clean the patient-care compartment of emergency vehicles should wear gloves, chemical-resistant or - impermeable suits, and eye protection. See the General Guidance section for general information on worker training. For additional information about emergency responders and training levels, please refer to Inspection Procedures for 29 CFR NIOSH provides emergency response resources to help emergency responders prepare for critical events, including potential exposure to biological agents and infectious diseases, such as anthrax.
Also see Interim Recommendations for the Selection and Use of Protective Clothing and Respirators Against Biological Agents for help in determining whether existing health and safety precautions are adequate for protection against BA exposure during emergency situations. Inhalation exposure may occur from machinery that generates aerosolized particles as it handles contaminated packages or envelopes.
Employers must protect workers who operate, maintain, or work near such machinery from inhalation exposure. This includes workers who hand-sort mail or work at other sites with the potential for airborne particle generation e. It is critically important that all such worksites develop an emergency plan describing appropriate actions to take when a known or suspected exposure to BA occurs.
The scope of the emergency plan and the procedures it includes may be based on an employer's risk assessment. For example, mail handling workers in facilities that are likely to be the targets of intentionally contaminated packages or letters may need more robust emergency plans.
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Select the measures included in the plan based on an initial evaluation of the worksite. Focus this evaluation on determining which processes, operations, jobs, or tasks would be most vulnerable to an exposure if a contaminated envelope or package enters the worksite. Employers also should designate individuals who are trained to respond in the event that a worker receives a suspicious mailing. At a minimum, the designated responders should know how to contact facility managers, local emergency responders, and local law enforcement officials.
Protecting trained responders may also involve the recommendations for control measures in the sub-sections below or in the other worker-specific sections of this page e. NOTE: While much of the guidance presented in this section directly relates to mail and package handlers, employers may also find this information useful for administrative workers who open office mail and packages. Aerosolization of BA spores may occur during the operation and maintenance of high-speed, mail-sorting or other package processing machines, creating potential exposure to workers operating these machines.
Engineering controls are the best option for preventing worker exposure to potential aerosolized particles and reducing the risk for inhalational anthrax. When using mail-sorting machines, clean the machines using an industrial vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA filter. Consider installing local exhaust ventilation at pinch roller areas and HEPA-filtered exhaust hoods in areas where there is dust generation. Air curtains using laminar air flow also can provide isolation for areas processing large amounts of mail. Implement procedures for rapid detection i. Located on or near incoming mail or package processing equipment, biohazard detection systems allow timely identification of contamination, preventing inhalation anthrax through early recognition of and response to an exposure situation e.
Establish handling and screening procedures for mail in all mail handling and packaging worksites. See the Homeland Security Response Checklist for steps to take when encountering a suspicious package.
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Restrict entry into and limit the number of persons working at or near sites with potential for aerosolized particle generation such as mail-sorting machinery or areas where emptying and unloading of mailbags occurs. Follow proper procedures and work practices during maintenance of machinery to protect workers from other injuries.
Do not use compressed air to clean machinery. Avoid dry sweeping and dusting of all areas with potential for aerosolized particle generation. Use wet-cleaning methods and vacuum with HEPA-equipped vacuum cleaners. After a release of anthrax, such as BA being used as a biological weapon, ensure that adequate facilities are available to workers for washing and changing clothes prior to leaving the worksite.
Also, remove shoes prior to leaving the worksite and launder clothes on site using detergent and hot water. Base PPE selection e. Factors to consider when determining PPE selection include the nature of the workplace and amount of mail received; whether the facility receives mail directly from a USPS facility with a higher risk of receiving contaminated mail; and whether the facility uses equipment that might disperse dust or anthrax spores into the air.
Employers may rely on information from local, state, and federal authorities e. Department of Homeland Security National Terrorism Advisory System , their own biohazard detection systems, and other information in order to characterize threat levels upon which to base risk assessment and PPE decisions. Thorough risk assessment, biohazard detection systems, and other controls e. However, depending on threat levels for a release, workers working with or near machinery that is capable of generating aerosolized particles e.
In these cases, respirators must be used in the context of a comprehensive respiratory protection program that includes medical exams, training, and fit-testing. For day-to-day operations when there is no reason to suspect BA contamination of the workplace or packages and mail; remove PPE prior to leaving the work area and discard single-use PPE as regular trash. Training is essential to ensure worker protection and safety from potentially contaminated mail. Train mail and package handlers in basic security procedures, suspicious package recognition, and reporting, proper use of PPE, safe work practices, and procedures relating to their specific job tasks.
Designated responders or other appropriate authority will determine the need for further action, which may include:.
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Postal Service poster Suspicious Letters or Packages graphically illustrates some of the characteristics of a suspicious letter or package. Postal Service guidance U. Postal Inspection Service Guide to Mail Service Security provides general advice and recommends protective measures to help mail and package workers assess, prevent, and respond to several types of mail-related threats including biological threats.
Workers whose jobs involve wild and domestic e. These workers include veterinarians; animal breeders; hunters and trappers; slaughterhouse workers; fur industry workers; tanning and leather industry workers; and wildlife, agricultural, and laboratory workers who handle infected animals or specimens. Inhalation anthrax has also been associated with making drums from animal hides. While exposure risk for animal and agricultural workers is much higher in developing countries or countries without veterinary public health programs, workers in the U. BA spores can remain viable i.
Infection in livestock occurs when an animal ingests i. For the most part, spores in soil do not pose a direct risk of infection for animal and agricultural workers. Disease in workers usually follows contact with contaminated carcasses or animal products. Animal and agricultural workers are at increased risk of exposure to BA when handling dead carcasses and bedding or other contaminated material, and when cleaning and disinfecting stables, pens, milking barns, and equipment used on livestock.
Ensure that the workspace is well-ventilated. OSHA recommends that workers processing products from animals have adequate ventilation systems, including local exhaust systems, to reduce dust levels. Arrange for veterinary supervision of animal production and slaughter to ensure animals are healthy and to minimize the risk of widespread anthrax infection among grazing animals. Implement a program of routine pre-exposure vaccination for veterinarians, veterinarian workers, and workers who come into contact with imported animal hides, furs, bone meal, wool, animal hair, or bristles when standards and restrictions e.
Observe recognized good infection control practices to prevent exposure and spread of the disease as specified in the General Guidance section. As appropriate, maintain a clean workspace. Use a high-efficiency particulate arrestance HEPA filter-equipped vacuum to clean workspaces, avoiding use of compressed air, dry sweeping, and shaking or beating of animal hides.
Dispose of potentially infected animal carcasses by burning or deep burial. Never conduct a post mortem after death examination on an animal suspected of having anthrax. Cover all exposed skin with clothing pants, long sleeves. Also see the CDC anthrax Web page Protection from Exposure for detailed information on worker protection from exposure to BA spores specific to working with animal hides.
Use appropriate personal protective equipment PPE as specified in the General Guidance section based upon the potential risk for exposure to BA spores. Ensure that adequate facilities are available to workers for washing and changing clothes after work. Remove shoes prior to leaving the worksite and launder clothes on site using detergent and hot water. Inform workers who handle live animals and raw animal materials about modes of transmission for BA. The World Health Organization WHO Guidelines for the Surveillance and Control of Anthrax in Humans and Animals provides useful information on the pathogenesis, pathology, treatment, control, and surveillance of anthrax.
This section provides control and prevention information for two categories of clean-up workers:. When feasible, use engineering controls, such as HEPA vacuums and local exhaust ventilation, to protect clean-up workers from exposure to BA during clean-up procedures. Isolate and clearly mark the immediate area where a spill or suspicious substance is located to keep other workers away from the area until first responders arrive.
Clean and disinfect environmental surfaces adhering to the General Guidance, Cleaning and Disinfection described. Use recognized good infection control practices when cleaning small areas not grossly contaminated with BA and when encountering any suspicious, unknown, fine-powder substance.
Avoid touching, handling or removing, any suspicious, unknown, fine-powder substance until the substance has been determined by qualified experts to pose no threat to workers in the area. Stirring up a fine-powered substance containing anthrax spores increases the potential for airborne, inhalation exposure. When cleaning a small area potentially contaminated with BA, do not dry sweep or dust the areas.