Avian Influenza PPE Recommendations

Last updated on June 15th, 2022 at 10:53 am

The current avian influenza strain circulating in the United States is H5N1. While H5N1 strains in the past have caused deadly infections in humans, the current virus strain is primarily an animal health issue. Much of the risk to humans occurs during removal of dead birds or clean up of spaces where infected birds were housed. The avian influenza virus can be transmitted through contact with dead birds, their feces, or surfaces that came in contact with birds or feces.

There is no risk of transmission of avian influenza through chicken products. No human bird flu infections have been reported from proper handling of poultry meat or from eating properly cooked poultry of poultry products

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Recommendations for Poultry Workers

Appropriate PPE can reduce your risk of contracting avian influenza or experiencing health impacts from other exposures like ammonia. Workers must receive training on and demonstrate an understanding of when to use PPE; what PPE is necessary; how to properly put on, use, take off, properly dispose of, and maintain PPE; and the limitations of PPE.

Monitoring Bird Health

PPE should be worn when working in poultry facilities and while monitoring for avian influenza. Put on and take off PPE in separate clean areas.

Biosecurity is an engineering control and plays a key role in preventing outbreaks. Learn more about biosecurity from the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. USDA APHIS also provides images of sick birds to guide your decision-making. If you suspect you have a sick bird, report this information to your state health department, a state veterinary lab, state wildlife agency, or a local veterinarian.

  • Head Protection: disposable head cover or hair cover
  • Gloves: disposable nitrile gloves or neoprene gloves that can be disinfected
  • Respirators: minimum respiratory protection is a NIOSH-approved N95 disposable particulate respirator
  • Foot Protection: disposable coverings for boots or boots that can be disinfected
  • Protective Clothing: disposable coveralls or coveralls that can be disinfected
p95 mask
P100 mask
N95 Mask

Depopulation, Removal, and Composting

These tasks may involve increased exposure to ammonia, resulting in the need for increased respiratory and eye protection. Put on and take off PPE in separate clean areas.

  • Head Protection: disposable head cover or hair cover
  • Gloves: disposable nitrile gloves or neoprene gloves that can be disinfected
  • Respirators: half mask or full facepiece respirator with P100 filters and ammonia or multi gas cartridges
  • Eye Protection: unvented goggles or full facepiece respirator
  • Foot Protection: disposable boot coverings or boots that can be disinfected
  • Protective Clothing: disposable coveralls or coveralls that can be disinfected
half mask respirator

Cleaning and Disinfecting

These tasks involve exposure to chemicals. Check product label for recommendations. Put on and take off PPE in separate clean areas.

  • Head Protection: disposable head cover or hair cover
  • Gloves: disposable nitrile gloves or neoprene gloves that can be disinfected
  • Respirators: half mask or full facepiece respirator with combination of P100 filters and multi gas cartridges are appropriate for many disinfectants as recommended by the product label
  • Eye Protection: unvented goggles or full facepiece respirator
  • Foot Protection: disposable coverings or boots that can be disinfected
  • Protective Clothing: disposable coveralls or coveralls that can be disinfected

Proper removal of PPE and good personal hygiene reduce the potential of exposure to the avian influenza virus.

For more information on Avian Influenza, review the CDC’s guidance on Recommendations for Worker Protection and Use of Personal Protective Equipment to Reduce Exposure to Novel Influenza A Viruses Associated with Severe Disease in Humans and NIOSH’s guidance on Protecting Poultry Workers from Avian Influenza.

Use of full-body PPE can increase the risk for heat-related illness. Understand the signs, symptoms, and prevention strategies with more information from NIOSH.