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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:

Disclaimer: These materials are intended to provide helpful information to dentists and dental team members. They are in no way a substitute for actual professional advice based upon your unique facts and circumstances. This content is not intended or offered, nor should it be taken, as legal or other professional advice. You should always consult with your own professional advisors (e.g. attorney, accountant, insurance carrier). To the extent ADA has included links to any third party web site(s), ADA intends no endorsement of their content and implies no affiliation with the organizations that provide their content. Further, ADA makes no representations or warranties about the information provided on those sites.