Occupational exposures

There are at least 2 documented cases of laboratory-acquired WNV infection from percutaneous inoculation.  In August 2002, a laboratory worker lacerated a thumb, resulting in a superficial cut, while using a scalpel to remove the brain of an infected bird.  Within 4 days, the laboratory worker developed symptoms of WNV.  Seven days after injury, tests verified that the worker had developed WNV.

In October 2002, a second laboratory worker who was harvesting WNV-infected mouse brains punctured a finger with a contaminated needle.  Within 3 days, the person developed symptoms of infection—headache, fever, chills, malaise, rash.  Serum samples verified infection with WNV.  Because of the danger of infection, health care workers handling fluids or tissues known or suspected to be WNV-infected should minimize their risk for exposure and should report injuries, such as needlesticks, and illnesses of suspected occupational origin to their supervisors.

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It is possible to acquire WNV from a needlestick injury.

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