Stocking EMS Supplies to Meet New CDC Demands

Early this past November, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) released updated documentation aimed at helping prevent the exposure of infectious diseases to emergency responders.

The main change to their newly released set of resources has been the expansion of the list of potentially life-threatening infectious diseases. The previous list of infectious diseases that emergency responders might encounter included:

  • Diphtheria
  • Hepatitis B
  • HIV, including AIDS
  • Tuberculosis
  • Viral hemorrhagic fevers
  • Meningococcal disease
  • Plague, pneumonic
  • Rabies

The list has more than doubled to now include:

  • Anthrax, cutaneous
  • Novel influenza A and other influenza strains with pandemic severity index greater than or equal to 3.
  • Hepatitis C
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Pertussis
  • Rubella
  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV)
  • Smallpox
  • Vaccinia
  • Varicella disease
  • Select agents

Public comment on the existing document has been the main source of inclusion for diseases to the list. Anthrax, for example, has been added to the list upon the suggestion of several contributors who stated that although inhalation and gastrointestinal anthrax is not a real threat, cutaneous anthrax transmitted via drainage from lesions is potentially fatal if left untreated.

Furthermore, although all comments were taken into consideration while creating the revised list of infectious diseases, not all have been included in the latest version. One potential contributor suggested that syphilis be added to the list. Their request was denied on the basis that only one case of syphilis transmission via accidental needlestick injury has ever been recorded.

It remains clear that the document is still being drafted and is no way in its final version. The emergency responder community will be expected to adjust their respective best practices in response to the inclusion of more infectious diseases. This includes offering better training to personnel and providing a wider array of EMS supplies that are better suited at preventing the spread of infectious disease.

Emergency Responder Statistics

Leading causes of death among emergency responders (source: rand.org)

The CDC and NIOSH are always looking for more ways to protect emergency responders that are on duty. As such, a compendium of online resources can be found on the CDC and NIOSH websites.

Have a comment about how your department is working to prevent the spread of infectious diseases among emergency responders?  Please leave us a comment – we’d love to hear what you think!

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Tags: CDC, diseases, emergency, ems, infectious, protecting, responders, supplies

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