Accidental Exposure to Orthopoxviruses

If you have been exposed to an Orthopoxvirus in a laboratory accident:

  1. Irrigate the site of exposure
    1. If exposure was by needle stick or other route that breaks the skin, scrub the site with soap and water for 15 minutes and cover with a bandage. While rinsing, apply pressure around the injury to express blood from the site.
    2. If exposure was by a splash to the eyes or mucous membranes, irrigate thoroughly with water for 15 minutes at an eyewash station.
  2. Report the exposure
    1. Immediately report the exposure to your laboratory supervisor and occupational health clinic.
  3. Monitor yourself for signs and symptoms after the exposure
    1. Monitor yourself for general signs and symptoms (e.g., fever, lymphadenopathy), and lesions or swelling at the exposure site:
      • For Vaccinia virus, monitor daily for 14 days after exposure
      • For other Orthopoxviruses, monitor daily for 21 days after exposure
  4. If you develop skin lesions or a fever, immediately consult your healthcare provider
    1. Consult your healthcare provider and specify the route and dose of exposure, the poxvirus strain (including the vector construct for recombinant strains), and your smallpox vaccination history.
    2. Skin lesions can be infectious. To minimize the risk of transmission to other people, cover the wound with gauze, a semipermeable membrane dressing to absorb exudates, and a layer of clothing (if possible). Change wound dressings frequently to prevent accumulation of exudates and maceration.