In response to several reader questions on the CDC post on safe handling of Ebola and recommended lab procedures, the CDC got back to us with this update:
In the Ebola guidance for healthcare workers and specifically for Specimen Handling for Routine Laboratory Testing of persons under investigation (PUI) for Ebola disease , CDC reminds all laboratory personnel to consider all blood and body fluids as potentially infectious. The guidance further informs laboratory personnel that strict adherence to the OSHA bloodborne pathogen regulations and Standard Precautions protects laboratory workers from bloodborne pathogens, including Ebola. In this guidance, emphasis is placed on the OSHA regulation’s requirement for performance of site-specific risk assessments. These assessments should consider the path of the sample throughout the laboratory, including all work processes and procedures, to identify potential exposure risks and to mitigate the risks by implementing engineering controls, administrative controls (including work practices), and appropriate PPE to protect laboratory personnel. Implementation of these recommendations requires that there is designated staff that is trained, competent, and confident in performing risk assessments within their laboratories.