The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends disposal of Ebola related waste to public wastewater systems (see below). The CDC does not have guidance for wastewater operations specialists and employees related specifically to Ebola. The CDC and the World Health Organization conclude that Ebola is not a foodborne, waterborne or airborne illness, it is transmitted through direct contact with infected bodily fluids and Ebola infected cells don’t live long in water because it does not have the same salt concentration as bodily fluids. On October 13, 2014, the CDC indicated it is reconsidering its approach to decontamination and equipment procedures for all health workers (see article below). National Rural Water Association( NRWA) is in contact with the CDC and the U.S. EPA regarding any additional guidance for wastewater or drinking water employees, and will be distributing all related guidance.
CDC Guidance on Safety of Ebola and Sanitation Systems:
- “Sanitary sewers may be used for the safe disposal of patient waste. Additionally, sewage handling processes (e.g., anaerobic digestion, composting, and disinfection) in the United States are designed to inactivate infectious agents.” Interim Guidance for Environmental Infection Control in Hospitals for Ebola Virus, August 1, 2014, CDC
- “For equipment that drains directly into the sewer system, the United States sanitary sewer system handling processes (e.g., anaerobic digestion, composting, disinfection) are designed to safely inactivate infectious agents.”
Interim Guidance for Specimen Collection, Transport, Testing, and Submission for Persons Under Investigation for Ebola Virus Disease in the United States, October 6, 2014, CDC
“C.D.C. Rethinking Methods to Stop Spread of Ebola” New York Times, October 13, 2014
- “The transmission of the Ebola virus to a nurse here forced the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday to reconsider its approach to containing the disease, with state and federal officials re-examining whether equipment and procedures were adequate or too loosely followed, and whether more decontamination steps are necessary when health workers leave isolation units… State and federal health officials seemed to be, in a sense, starting over, two weeks after Mr. Duncan’s diagnosis of Ebola on Sept. 30. They were now identifying, assessing and learning more about a group of health care workers they had largely ignored, to the point that they spent more than 24 hours simply trying to identify who they were… Concern was also evident in Louisiana, where a state judge granted the state attorney general, Buddy Caldwell, a temporary restraining order on Monday blocking the dumping of Mr. Duncan’s incinerated personal items in a hazardous-waste landfill in Calcasieu Parish…”