Avian Flu: Best Practices
Avian influenza (or bird flu) commonly infects wild and domestic birds. In rare cases bird flu can infect workers who touch or work around sick birds, their carcasses, and surfaces contaminated with their feathers, feces, and saliva.
Workers: Protect yourself
- Avoid unprotected direct contact with sick birds and their droppings. Instead, wear recommended personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Avoid touching solid surfaces and water possibly contaminated with bird droppings like ponds, waterers, buckets, pans, and troughs.
- Avoid touching eyes, mouth and nose after contact with any of the above.
- Avoid dry sweeping or using compressed air hoses when cleaning bird coups.
- Wash hands thoroughly using soap and water.
- Use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol if soap and water aren’t available for washing.
Employers: Protect your workers
- Do a PPE assessment of employee’s workspace activities. Based on this assessment, you may need to provide some or all of the following recommended PPE:
- Vented safety goggles
- Disposable gloves
- Boots or boot covers
- NIOSH-approved respirator, such as an N95, elastomeric respirator, or powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR)
- Disposable fluid-resistant coveralls
- Disposable head cover or hair cover
- Provide safety training for your workers to ensure they can demonstrate an understanding of:
- What PPE is necessary
- When to use PPE
- How to properly put on, use, and remove PPE
- How to properly discard disposable PPE
- How to maintain re-usable PPE, like elastomeric respirators
- The limitations of PPE
- How to put on and take off PPE in separate clean areas.
- Provide a separate area to take off and dispose of contaminated clothing.
- Provide NIOSH-approved air-purifying respirators with a particulate filter with a rating of N95 or higher. These respirators should be worn by workers who have contact with infected birds, carcasses, or potentially contaminated materials.
- When respirators are used, follow written program requirements for medical evaluations, fit-testing, and training per the Respirators rule, Chapter 296-842 WAC.
- For more info on guidelines, programs, and training, go to the L&I Respirator Topics Page
- For more info on PPE selection, safe use, and removal, go to the CDC website
- Washington State’s Department of Health’s topic page on Avian Flu
For more info on tracking current outbreak activity, see: