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NIOSH Respiratory Diseases Research Program

Evidence Package for the National Academies' Review 2006-2007

6. Infectious Diseases

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This chapter describes RDRP work relating to various infectious respiratory diseases, including: TB, anthrax, SARS, avian and pandemic influenza and histoplasmosis. In addition, this chapter describes recent RDRP work concerning the relationship between occupational exposures and susceptibility to infection.

Infectious aerosols are dispersions of airborne liquid or solid particles capable of causing infection. Occupational exposures to airborne microbial agents such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi can cause respiratory illness in workers in a variety of settings, including healthcare, poultry farming, construction, and emergency response.

A unique external factor affecting RDRP work in the area of occupational infectious respiratory diseases is the large body of expertise and activity in this area across all of CDC. Thus, RDRP work is most often done in collaboration with other elements of CDC that have the infectious diseases of concern as their primary focus and often share RDRP’s interest in occupational transmission. RDRP brings unique skills to these collaborations. RDRP provides the rest of CDC with expertise in workplace engineering controls, building ventilation systems, personal protective technology including respirators, and industrial hygiene, all of which are used in the formulation of recommendations designed to protect against transmission of infectious respiratory diseases.