Hurricanes & employee health

Another human bird flu case, this time in CO; COVID reaches winter #s in FL, and more...

July 9, 2024

Bird Flu News:

  • A fourth human case of H5N1 was found in a dairy worker in Colorado last week. They reported only eye symptoms. (CDC)
  • HHS awarded Moderna $176 million to develop an mRNA H5 bird flu vaccine. (CIDRAP)
  • A new study is sparking debate about whether H5N1 in cows is adapted to better infect both humans since it can bind to human- and bird-type receptors. (STAT)
  • 2 children in Cambodia have been infected with H5N1 after contact with dead birds. (CIDRAP)
  • CDC is taking steps to ramp up capacity for human H5N1 testing. (STAT)
  • Live poultry markets may be the source of bird flu virus in San Francisco wastewater. (LA Times)

Health News:

  • COVID is “high” in the Western U.S. and continuing to rise across the country as we see a bit of a summer wave. (CBS)
  • Nearly 1000 students and staff at schools throughout a city in South Korea became ill after eating noro-contaminated kimchi. (BBC)
  • Florida ERs have seen a surge in COVID in the past few weeks, near last winter’s peaks. (CBS)
  • Gastrointestinal issues are common COVID symptoms that are often overlooked. (NY Times)
  • The FDA will ban the use of brominated vegetable oil in food and soda. (Reuters)
  • The large Salmonella outbreak associated with cucumbers has been linked to one grower in Florida, but that grower doesn’t account for all the cases. (FDA)
  • Frozen Al-Safa brand ready-to-eat chicken products have been recalled due to possible Listeria contamination. (USA Today)
  • Lone star ticks are spreading north, bringing unique diseases with them. (Washington Post)
  • Health risks from extreme heat linger even as temperatures drop. (NBC)
  • Another human plague case is suspected in Colorado after positive preliminary results. (Washington Post)

Mental Health & Substance Use News:

  • A new report ranked 988 answer rates and highlighted policy successes from certain states, though all states can do more to support mental health crisis response. (Inseparable)
  • A novel peer counseling program from Zimbabwe, featuring grandmas with basic training and quiet benches to talk, is inspiring some in the U.S. (AP)

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide or need help, call or text 988. 

Best Questions:

What employee health issues should we consider in the aftermath of Hurricane Beryl?

We’re thinking of everyone in Beryl’s path right now, including the 2.7 million homes and businesses without power in Texas. First and foremost, it’s important to establish physical safety, which might mean closing your business until it’s safe to travel or until power is back on. Food safety issues abound when the power is out, so keep any walk-in doors closed and throw out any food you’re unsure about.  Don’t forget to properly dispose of spoiled food in a place where no one has access to it! Heat risk is high, both in the aftermath of the storm and throughout the U.S. right now and ensuring that there are cool places for employees to rest is key.  Standing water is an issue, as well; flood water can contain dangerous bacteria and attract mosquitoes, which can spread diseases like dengue and West Nile. Last, but certainly not least, there’s employee mental health and stress management to consider. If your business suffered significant damage or you’re considering opening without full power or while under a boil water notice, don’t hesitate to reach out to ZHH for additional support and resources.

Sources: ZHH App, Steritech

We have an employee with IBS who works in food service. What should we do? 

Generally, Food Code allows employees with IBS and similar medical conditions to work in food service even if they have gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea since it’s due to a noninfectious condition. It’s very important that people who have regular diarrhea or vomiting report any changes in their symptoms and stay home if they experience anything new or different. Here at Zero Hour Health, we’ve seen some severe outbreaks when employees and managers don’t react when an employee with a chronic health condition has a sudden change in their symptoms when, in fact, they were working while infectious with norovirus or Salmonella, for example. The only exception is when someone’s IBS symptoms are severe or uncontrolled enough that it’s challenging to maintain a clean and safe working environment for others, as is the case if someone has incontinence and can’t consistently make it to the bathroom in time. In those cases, we recommend working with your HR and legal teams to determine if there are reasonable accommodations to be made in the workplace. Some company policies require a doctor’s note confirming a noninfectious diagnosis before allowing someone with diarrhea or vomiting to work in a food service setting. As always, since IBS and other chronic medical conditions are generally covered under the ADA, we highly recommend working with your HR and legal teams to determine your company policy and handle specific cases.  

Sources: FDA 2022 Food Code

Best Read:

Texas restaurants cope with Hurricane Beryl aftermath - Nation’s Restaurant News