Testing and detection of zoonotic influenza virus infections in humans in the EU/EEA, and occupational safety and health measures for those exposed at work


This is a joint report by ECDC, EU-OSHA, EFSA, European Reference Laboratory for Avian Influenza and Newcastle Disease.

Influenza viruses circulating in animal species can sporadically be transmitted to humans and  have the potential to cause pandemics or epidemics, such as the 2009 influenza pandemic caused by a virus spreading from pigs to human, or the epidemics of avian influenza viruses H5N1 (bird flu) in Egypt or H7N9 in China. At workplaces where animal contact cannot be avoided, such as animal breeding centres, farms, zoos and slaughterhouses, workers will probably be at the forefront of any outbreaks. Workers in laboratories, healthcare facilities and waste management or those involved in wildlife conservation and forestry could also be exposed. Occupational safety and health (OSH) measures should be taken at these workplaces and enhanced at those where cases have been identified. The guidance explains the principles of OSH prevention and the legislation on the protection of workers from biological agents´ exposure.

The document also aims to provide guidance for public health and laboratory experts in identifying human infections with animal influenza viruses as early as possible to provide early warning and inform risk assessments and public health measures. It focuses particularly on viruses transmitted by birds (avian) and pigs (swine) and explains the notification requirements and systems established in the EU.

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