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Infectious Disease and Workplace Liability

Infectious Disease

Measles is a highly contagious, acute viral respiratory illness that can be spread through coughing and/or sneezing. Infectious fluids may remain contagious on surfaces for several hours and many can spread the disease while being asymptomatic. Symptoms of measles can include a runny nose, fever, and watery eyes. Skin rash, the most indicative sign of measles infection, can take up to four days to appear.

Working at a dental office, the likelihood of coming into direct contact with infectious blood or bodily fluids is elevated. Dentists and dental staff could become infected with the virus if not properly vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that one dose of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is approximately 93% effective at preventing measles. Healthcare personnel should have documented evidence of immunity against measles, according to the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, or OSHA, the employer has a general legal obligation to provide a safe workplace. Several different laws address workplace safety. Several OSHA standards and directives apply to protecting healthcare workers from infectious diseases. State laws may apply as well.

There are several CDC resources to assist in assessing and reducing occupational exposure risks to infectious diseases.

Additional information can be found here: