Healthcare and Infectious Diseases

Viral hepatitis, influenza, and tuberculosis (TB) remain among the leading causes of illness and death in the United States and account for substantial spending on the related consequences of infection. The infectious disease public health infrastructure, which carries out disease surveillance.Healthcare workers (HCWs) are occupationally exposed to a variety of infectious diseases during the performance of their duties. The delivery of healthcare services requires a broad range of workers, such as physicians, nurses, technicians, clinical laboratory workers, first responders, building maintenance, security and administrative personnel, social workers, food service, housekeeping, and mortuary personnel. Moreover, these workers can be found in a variety of workplace settings, including hospitals, nursing care facilities, outpatient clinics (e.g., medical and dental offices, and occupational health clinics), ambulatory care centers, and emergency response settings. The diversity among HCWs and their workplaces makes occupational exposure to infectious diseases especially challenging. For example, not all workers in the same healthcare facility, not all individuals with the same job title, and not all healthcare facilities will be at equal risk of occupational exposure to infectious agents.

The primary routes of infectious disease transmission in U.S. healthcare settings are contact, droplet, and airborne. Contact transmission can be sub-divided into direct and indirect contact. Direct contact transmission involves the transfer of infectious agents to a susceptible individual through physical contact with an infected individual (e.g., direct skin-to-skin contact). Indirect contact transmission occurs when infectious agents are transferred to a susceptible individual when the individual makes physical contact with contaminated items and surfaces (e.g., door knobs, patient-care instruments or equipment, bed rails, examination table). Two examples of contact transmissible infectious agents include Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE).

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