Environmental, Health and Safety Services

Instructions for a Potential Infectious Disease Exposure or Injury from an Animal Bite or Scratch

Any animal handler who has been injured by an animal or exposed to an infectious disease while working at Virginia Tech must notify his/her supervisor or PI and fill out an accident report. Anyone who has been exposed to human blood or other human material should get the contact information of the person or the source of the material (for example: the supplier of the cell line) so that EHSS can follow up to determine whether there is a risk of a Bloodborne Pathogen or other human pathogen exposure. For a laboratory exposure to a known infectious agent, laboratory staff must provide an MSDS or other data on the specific strain to which the individual was exposed. In the case of an animal handler’s injury by an animal that may carry a zoonotic disease, the animal should be observed by veterinary staff and tested when appropriate to determine whether there is a risk of zoonotic disease transmission.

Exposure Incident

For accidents not involving a known exposure to infectious agents:

  • Provide immediate first-aid. Stop the bleeding of wounds and wash the affected areas with soap and water. For field work where soap and water may not be readily available, use of baby wipes (available in small portable packages) or alcohol based cleansing gel is acceptable. Alcohol based gels are neutralized by organic matter so the first application should be wiped off to remove debris, or the area can be cleansed first with a baby wipe, and the next application of gel can be left on the skin.
  • Immediately report the incident to the Facility Director or Manager.
  • Those individuals needing immediate medical treatment for serious injuries may visit an appropriate healthcare provider for treatment (e.g., emergency room, primary care physician, students may also be treated at Student Health Services). Immediate medical treatment may be required if:
    • an individual’s ability to breath properly is affected;
    • bleeding is excessive and difficult to control;
    • an injury clearly needs sutures; or
    • there is a loss of consciousness associated with the incident.
  • An individual seeking medical attention must take a Hazard Summary sheet or agent MSDS’ and present them to the healthcare provider prior to receiving services. It is important that the healthcare provider be made aware of the hazards present in the facility in order to appropriately diagnose and treat an individual.
  • Employee’s supervisor completes an Employer’s Accident Report and emails it to Teresa Lyons ( tlyons@vt.edu) and Kathy Gibson ( gibsonk@vt.edu) within 24 hours of the incident. This document is specific to the Workers Compensation Program and is required prior to any follow-up medical services being provided.
  • Facility Director or Manager completes a General Incident Report form to be used by the Facility Director, Facility Manager, and EHSS for review of the incident.

For accidents also resulting in a known or suspected exposure to an infectious agent:

  • In addition to completing the Employer’s Accident Report, and following the previous procedure, the Facility Director or Manager must record the details of the known or suspected exposure on the Exposure Incident Report Form including:
    • the infectious agent(s) involved;
    • circumstances of the exposure;
    • the possible route(s) of exposure;
    • an estimate of the dose received by each individual exposed;
    • whether or not the individual(s) is/are symptomatic and, if asymptomatic, what signs and symptoms to monitor; and,
    • any known post exposure prophylaxis or treatment protocol.
  • Those individuals needing immediate medical treatment for serious injuries in conjunction with a known or suspected exposure may visit an appropriate healthcare provider for treatment (e.g., emergency room, primary care physician, students may also be treated at Student Health Services).
    • Prior to seeking medical treatment after any exposure incident, known or suspected, the individual must be deconned (i.e., contaminated clothing removed and affected areas washed) and the information from step 1 along with a Hazard Summary sheet and/or MSDS’ must be presented to emergency response personnel, if summoned, and the healthcare provider.
    • In addition, the individual (or other informed person, if the individual is incapacitated) must notify the healthcare provider BEFORE they arrive that an exposure or suspected exposure has occurred. This allows the healthcare provider to designate the use of an alternate entrance to prevent contamination of primary receiving rooms or areas.
  • EHSS must also be notified immediately of any exposure incident and provided the information recorded in step 1 to ensure proper evaluation and follow-up by the university’s occupational health physician or a Worker’s Compensation Panel Physician.
    • Sarah Owen, Medical Surveillance Program Administrator, 231-4034, sowen@vt.edu
    • Zack Adams, Assistant Director, EHSS, 231-5985, adamsz@vt.edu
    • Charlotte Waggoner , University Biosafety Officer, 231-5864, ren@vt.edu
    • Chris Wakley, Biosafety Specialist, 231-3361, cwakley@vt.edu
    • After hours EHSS can be contacted by calling VTPD at 231-6411
  • Following any incident, a review must be conducted by the Facility Director, Facility Manager, and EHSS to determine possible causes, review work practices, and determine preventative measures for future incidents. Documentation of incidents and corrective actions must be maintained.