The issue of infectious (communicable) disease in the fire service has been well established as a very serious concern. IAFF members are exposed every day to potentially life threatening disease including MRSA, HIV, pertussis and many more. The 2011 NFPA Injury Report informs that there were over 11,000 exposures to communicable diseases during the reporting period. This amounts to 1 exposure for every 1,500 EMS runs. In the U.S., 27 states have made infectious diseases a presumptive illness for fire fighters and emergency medical providers.
This webpage offers basic information about common infectious diseases that can affect the health and safety of IAFF members and their family members. For each disease the symptoms, prevention and transmission methods and treatment options are discussed so that IAFF members can protect themselves in the workplace. Please feel free to use this information as a supplement to your annual OSHA required bloodborne pathogen refresher training.
Infectious disease is an area of rapidly changing conditions. Some of the controversies that may arise in the next several years are the issue of baseline screening for hepatitis B and C, mandatory testing for HIV, and whether to regulate exposures for non-bloodborne pathogens such as tuberculosis. While this webpage discusses some of these issues, this continues to be an evolving field.