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Environmental Health & Safety

Ebola Information

Information for the Public

An Ebola public information line has been established by Carolinas Poison Center. The number is 1-800-222-1222, and callers should press 6 for questions about Ebola.

Ebola is only contagious after the onset of symptoms. The incubation period before symptoms may appear is 2-21 days, with 8-10 days being the most common. Ebola is spread through unprotected contact with blood or body fluids from someone who is infected. Anyone who becomes ill within 21 days after traveling to an affected area in West Africa should contact a healthcare provider right away and limit their contact with others until they have been evaluated.

Ebola FactsEbola is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or through your eyes, nose, or mouth) with

  • Blood and body fluids (like urine, feces, saliva, vomit, sweat, and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola.
  • Objects (like needles) that have been contaminated with the blood or body fluids of a person sick with Ebola.


Ebola is not spread through the air, water, or food.

There is no FDA-approved vaccine available for Ebola. Experimental vaccines and treatments for Ebola are under development, but they have not yet been fully tested for safety or effectiveness.

Symptoms of Ebola

  • Fever (greater than 38.6ºC or 101.5ºF)
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Unexplained bleeding or bruising

To protect yourself from Ebola

  • DO wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Do NOT touch the blood or body fluids (like urine, feces, saliva, vomit, sweat, and semen) of people who are sick.
  • Do NOT handle items that may have come in contact with a sick person’s blood or body fluids, like clothes, bedding, needles, or medical equipment.
  • Do NOT touch the body of someone who has died of Ebola.

Have you been to an affected area or in contact with a potential Ebola case?

 If you have been to Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, or Nigeria in the past month, there is a possibility that you may have been exposed to Ebola. All persons arriving in North Carolina who traveled to an affected region within 21 days and either had contact with a known or suspected Ebola case; worked in a healthcare setting in an affected region; or participated in funeral rites in an affected region should contact their local health department or the Communicable Disease Branch epidemiologist on call to undergo a thorough risk assessment.  

Please complete the International Travel Self Reporting Form if you have been to an affected region, intend to travel to an infected region, or have been exposed to a potential Ebola Case.

CDC travel restrictions

CDC urges all US residents to avoid nonessential travel to Democratic Rebublic of Congo, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone because of unprecedented outbreaks in those countries. CDC recommends that travelers to these countries protect themselves by avoiding contact with the blood and body fluids of people who are sick with Ebola. For more detailed information, please visit the CDC Travel Health Notices webpage: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices.

Additional Ebola Information and Resources

Workers' Comp.

The Workers’ Compensation law provides medical benefits and disability
compensation including a weekly compensation benefit for time lost.

All North Carolina State Government employees are covered under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act. Those covered include all employees and officers of the State including elected officials, members of the General Assembly, and persons appointed to serve on a per diem, part-time or fee basis. Any employee who suffers an accidental injury or contracts an occupational disease within the meaning of the Workers’ Compensation Act is entitled to benefits provided by the Act. The employee is entitled to medical benefits and compensation for time lost from work and any disability which results from the injury. The State has a “self-insured” program and expenditures are paid from current operating budgets.


Workers' Compensation Forms

MSDS Links

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) provide valuable information on chemicals as well as procedures for handling and working with a substance safely. The MSDS includes information such as physical data (boiling point, flash point, etc.), health effects, toxicity, first aid, storage, disposal, personal protective equipment, and spill/leak procedures.

Typical information present in an MSDS: As described in the OSHA Hazard Communication standard and using the Form 174 format, the following information is required. No items may be left blank.

Chemical Identity: The identity of the substance as it appears on the label.

Section I. Manufacturer's Name and Contact Information

Manufacturer's name, address, telephone number and emergency telephone number. Date the MSDS was prepared and an optional signature of the preparer.

Section II. Hazardous Ingredients/Identity Information

Lists the hazardous components by chemical identity and other common names. Includes OSHA PEL.

(Permissible Exposure Limit), ACGIH TLV (Threshold Level Value) and other recommended exposure limits. Percentage listings of the hazardous components is optional.

Section III. Physical/Chemical Characteristics

Boiling point, vapor pressure, vapor density, specific gravity, melting point, evaporation rate, solubility in water, physical appearance and odor.

Section IV. Fire and Explosion Hazard Data

Flash point (and method used to determine it), flammability limits, extinguishing media, special firefighting procedures, unusual fire and explosion hazards.

Section V. Reactivity Data

Stability, conditions to avoid, incompatibility (materials to avoid), hazardous decomposition or byproducts, hazardous polymerization (and conditions to avoid).

Section VI. Health Hazard Data

Routes of entry (inhalation, skin, ingestion), health hazards (acute = immediate and chronic = build up over time), carcinogenicity (NTP, IARC monographs, OSHA regulated), signs and symptoms of exposure, medical conditions generally aggravated by exposure, emergency and first aid procedures.

Section VII. Precautions for Safe Handling and Use

Steps to be taken in case material is released or spilled, waste disposal method, precautions to be taken in handling or storage, other precautions.

Section VIII. Control Measures

Respiratory protection (specify type), ventilation (local, mechanical exhaust, special or other), protective gloves, eye protection, other protective clothing or equipment, work/hygienic practices.

The best place to get a Material Safety Data Sheet is from the original manufacturer, but the following links may help you as well:


Return to Chemical Safety

Chemical Safety

Useful Links

Universal Precautions

The World Health Organization (WHO) Laboratory Biosafety Manual, produced by the Special Program on Safety Measures in Microbiology (SMM), provides internationally applicable guidance on biosafety developed by several expert working groups.

Recognizing that laboratory accidents and infections are caused primarily by poor practice and technique, the manual emphasizes safe practice and training procedures. It also presents basic standards of laboratory design for work with microorganisms by degree of infective risk and a guide to selecting and using essential biosafety equipment and materials. Although oriented to biosafety, the manual also provides a general laboratory safety checklist and safety procedures for using and handling laboratory chemicals.

The manual is intended primarily for the guidance and use of laboratory supervisors, biosafety officers, and others responsible for laboratory safety programs. The following are highlights of the universal precautions for laboratories, per the biosafety manual:

  • Universal precautions should apply to blood and all body fluids containing visible blood, semen, vaginal secretions, tissues, cerebrospinal fluid, synovial fluid, pleural fluid, peritoneal fluid, pericardial fluid, and amniotic fluid.
  • Hands should be washed immediately when contaminated with blood or other bodily fluids, after removing gloves, and after completing laboratory activities.
  • Use of needles and syringes should be limited to situations in which there is no alternative. If used, needles should not be recapped, purposely bent or broken by hand, removed from disposable syringes, or otherwise manipulated by hand. After use, disposable syringes and needles, scalpel blades, or other sharp items should be placed in puncture resistant containers for disposal; these containers should be located as close as practical in the use area. Reusable sharps should be placed in a puncture-resistant container for safe transport to the processing area.
  • Laboratory workers should use protective barriers appropriate for the laboratory procedure and the type and extent of exposure anticipated. For example:

-- All persons processing blood should wear gloves.

-- Phlebotomists should wear gloves when they have cuts, scratches, or other breaks in the skin, when hand contamination is predictable (i.e. uncooperative patient, or heel or finger sticks on infants and children), and when receiving training in phlebotomy.

-- Surgical or examinations gloves should not be washed or disinfected for reuse.

-- General-purpose utility gloves should not be used for housekeeping, instrument cleaning, and decontamination procedures and can be decontaminated for reuse as long as they remain in tact.

-- Masks and protective eyewear or face shields should be worn if mucous membrane contact with blood or bodily fluids is anticipated (i.e., removing tops from vacuum tubes).

-- Gowns, laboratory coats, or aprons should be worn during procedures that are likely to generate splashes of blood or bodily fluids and should be removed before leaving the laboratory.

-- Routine procedures, such as histologic and pathologic studies or microbiological culturing, do not require a BSC. BSCs (Class I or II) should be used whenever procedures are conducted that have a high potential for generating droplets (i.e., blending, sonicating, and vigorous mixing.)

  • All specimens of blood should be put in a well-constructed container with a secure lid to prevent leakage during transport.
  • Mechanical pipetting devises should be used in the laboratory. Mouth-pipetting must not be performed.
  • Laboratory work surfaces should be cleaned of visible material and then decontaminated with an appropriate chemical germicide after a blood or bodily fluid spill and when work activities are completed.
  • Contaminated materials used in laboratory tests should be decontaminated before reprocessing or be placed in bags and disposed of in accordance with institutional and regulatory policies for disposal of infective waste.
  • Contaminated scientific equipment should be clean and then decontaminated before repair in the laboratory or transport to the manufacturer.
  • Area posting of warning signs should be considered to remind employees of continuing hazards of infectious disease transmission in the laboratory.


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