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Define: health hazards

associated with exposure to


biological agents

4.6 BIOLOGICAL HAZARDS

Edited by: Rahani AR

Biohazard organisms or products of organisms that


present a risk to humans
Organism a living thing, such as a germ, plant, animal,
or human that may consist of several parts, with each part
specializing in a particular function
Microorganism a minute organism, such as microbes,
bacteria, cocci, viruses, molds, etc.

Definitions

Army at Fort Detrick Frederick, Maryland


Researching biological warfare agents

1941 Chemical Warfare Services (CWS)


American Society of Microbiology served as advisors to CWS

1970s Recombinant DNA technology


1980s - Appearance of HIV
1991 OSHAs Bloodborne Pathogens Program (29
CFR 1910.1030)

Development of Biosafety

RECENT INCREASED AWARENESS


OF BIOHAZARDS

Newest subset of focus


Contributing to awareness
Legionnaires disease
AIDS epidemic
DNA technology
anthrax
Specialists exist but their
numbers are small
S/H/E professionals have becom
involved

Healthcare
Hepatitis, tuberculosis, infections
Infections categorized as:
Community acquired transmitted to either patients or workers
Occupationally acquired resulting from worker exposure
Nosocomial hospital-acquired infections of patients

Research facilities
Q fever, hepatitis, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, dermatomycosis
Percutaneous inoculation (needles/syringes, cuts or abrasions from contaminated items, and animal
bites/scratches); inhalation of aerosols, contact between mucous membranes and contaminated material
(hands and surfaces), and ingestion

Agriculture
Workers may be exposed to infectious microorganisms that are associated with the plants or animals
Food and grain handlers, farmers, laborers may be exposed to parasitic diseases
Processors who handle animal products may acquire bacterial skin diseases from working with
contaminated hides, infected with contaminated fish, meat or poultry, Bacterial infections from
exposure to feces from infected turkeys, geese, ducks, etc.

Animal facilities/Veterinary practices


Bites, scratches, parasites, diseases, allergens

Biotechnology facilities
Genetically engineered bacteria, fungi, plant and animal cells for development of products

Miscellaneous occupations
Workers maintaining water systems (legionella); pet shops; zoos; wood-processing facilities (fungi);
sewage workers (bacteria, virus, parasites); forestry workers (Rocky Mountain spotted fever, lyme
disease, viruses and bacteria from ticks, fungi); child care workers (bacteria (shingles), viruses (measles,
chickenpox); public safety workers (bloodborne pathogens, viral respiratory diseases (influenza).

Occupational hazards

Inherently different
from chemicals, physical
agents, carcinogens, etc.
BUT, recognition,
evaluation and control
still can be applied

Biohazards are

Biological materials
typically..
Have no threshold level of exposure, i.e., dose and response
relationship
Are ubiquitous in the environment so the idea of
permissible exposure limits is inappropriate
Are affected by biological competition rather than behaving
in an additive or synergistic way
Interact with the host and its environment to produce the
adverse effects

For illness to occur..

The agent must be pathogenic.


There must be a reservoir of sufficient number.
The agent must escape the reservoir.
The organism must be able to move through the
environment.
There must be a portal of entry for the host.
The host must be susceptible to the agent.

Modes of transmission
Contact (direct/indirect, zoonotic); vector-borne, airborne

Routes of entry
Infectious dose (infective dose)
Number of microorganism

Viability and virulence of agent


Viability - Ability to replicate
Virulence Ability to cause disease

Host susceptibility
Skin disorders, immune system, vaccination allergy, infection of
fetus, work practices

Factors affecting
infection and exposure

Microorganisms
Examples: viruses, bacteria,
fungi, protozoa, algae
Reactions: infection, exposure,
allergic reactions
Arthropods
Examples: crustaceans,
arachnids, insects
Reactions: skin inflammation,
allergic reactions, systemic
intoxication, transmission of
infectious agents

Classification of
Biohazards

Allergens
Examples: from higher plants
Reactions: Dermatitis, rhinitis,
asthma
Protein Allergens
Examples: vertebrate animals (urine,
feces, hair, saliva, dander)
Reactions: allergic reactions
Parasites
Examples: ticks, hookworms,
pinworms
Reactions: skin reaction,
inflammatory response, allergic
reaction

Some common biological


agents/types

Bacteria
Viruses
Rickettsiae
Fungi
Parasites

BACTERIA

Simple, one-celled organisms


(microscopic)
Live in soil, water, organic matter/
body of plants or animals
Escherichia coli (E.coli),
Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB),
tetanus
Some are pathogenic, some are
harmless, some are even useful
Broken skin is particularly
vulnerable
Food poisoning in mass

VIRUSES
Smallest known organisms
Living (?) non-cellular entities
Consist of nucleic acids and lack
of cellular structure
Are obligate parasites &
cannot survive without living
cells (depend on its host)
Common occupational exposures
to animal virus, poxvirus &
arbovirus
Cold, influenza, SARS,
Hantavirus, rabies

RICKETTSIAE
Bacteria-like but smaller
Are obligate parasites
Transmitted to humans
via bloodsucking
arthropods (fleas, ticks &
lice) or through the air
Responsible for typhus
and Rocky Mountain
spotted fever

FUNGI
Broadest spectrum among
biological agents
Are either parasitic or
saprophytic
Lack of chlorophyll & live on
dead/other living organism
Hypersensitivity due to
inhaled fungal antigens
Fungal disease is rare but
includes ringworm, rusts,
smut, yeast, rusts, mould &
athletes foot

PARASITES
Parasitic to plants or
animals
Diseases include malaria
and other blood and GI
infections
Dermatitis and other skinrelated ailments due to
mites and chiggers, etc.

Bacterial disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis


Some populations are at greater risk
Transmitted by inhalation of infectious droplet nuclei
suspended in air
Symptoms
Early on: fatigue, fever, weight loss
Later: Hoarseness, cough, hemoptysis (blood-tinged sputum),
lesions in respiratory tract

Tuberculosis (TB)

Caused by HIV, a virus


Transmitted via sexual contact, sharing of needles and
transfused blood
Symptoms include tiredness, fever, night sweats, weight loss
No single test as diagnosis
Treatment (at present) cannot cure or restore the immune
system

Acquired Immune
Deficiency Syndrome
(AIDS)

Anthrax
Caused by spore-forming
bacterium Bacillus anthracis
Found in imported animal
products
Types of anthrax
Cutaneous anthrax
Inhalational anthrax
Gastrointestinal anthrax

a.Cutaneous Anthrax
Most common naturally occurring
infection
Incubation period of 1-12 days
Symptoms:
small, raised bump
ulcer with black center
fever, headache, malaise

b. Inhalational Anthrax
Most lethal form
Incubation period of 1-7 and possible
60 days
Symptoms:
sore throat, fever, muscles aches
respiratory failure and shock

Fatality rate of approximately 75%

c.Gastrointestinal Anthrax
Follows consumption of raw or
undercooked meat
Incubation period of 1-7days
Symptoms:
sore throat, fever
loss of appetite
nausea & vomiting

Fatality rate between 25%-60%

SUMMARY
A tremendous variety of biological materials exists as
potential exposure agents.
Effects of bio-hazardous agents are subtle and slow in
developing.
There is increasing concern about, and interest in,
biological materials.
Bottom-line: biohazards are (and must be) treated with
extraordinary caution.

Route of Entry

PPE

Inhalation (breathing in
biohazards)

respirators

Absorption (through eyes,


mucuos)

Impervious clothing, eye


protection, gloves

Ingestion (contaminated hands, Gloves, protective clothing


food, cigarettes)
Injection (puncture through
skin)

Routes

Gloves, protective clothing

Controls