MRSA, Zika, & Ebola: Medical Waste Removal With Emerging Pathogens

MRSA, Zika, & Ebola: Medical Waste Removal With Emerging Pathogens

In the last few years, there have been many alarming headlines about emerging pathogens, from Ebola, to MRSA, and now the Zika virus. While the news may cause concern for many, there are policies, processes, and laws in place to help control and mitigate risks with infectious waste. Understanding the statistics, prevention methods, and the laws as outlined by the CDC and other governing bodies can help to ease these concerns.

Healthcare facilities that treat patients with infectious disease are focused on the broader picture when it comes to medical waste removal. The goal is always the same, and that’s to protect patients and the community from harm.


Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, or MRSA for short, is tough to treat because it is resistant to commonly used antibiotics.

With MRSA, an ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure. According to the CDC, “…disinfectants effective against Staphylococcus aureus or staph are most likely also effective against MRSA. These products are readily available from grocery stores and other retail stores. Check the disinfectant product’s label on the back of the container.”

The CDC also recommends good hygiene to prevent MRSA. From its website:

  • Using barriers like a towel or clothing between your skin and the surface.
  • Showering immediately after activities where you have direct skin contact with people or shared surfaces, such as after exercising at a health club.
  • Cleaning your hands regularly.
  • Keeping cuts and scrapes clean and covered with bandages or dressing until healed.

While MRSA is serious, statistics show that it is on the decline, and that is thanks to good sanitation and medical waste removal processes. Invasive MRSA infections that began in hospitals declined 8 percent between 2011 and 2013.

Ebola Virus

According to the CDC, there were four laboratory-confirmed cases of Ebola virus disease diagnosed in humans in the United States as of December 2014.

While statistically low, the severity of the virus is not to be taken lightly, and the CDC’s procedures put in place are the reason that treatment and the prevention of spreading Ebola have been successful.

Designated areas are recommended for Ebola patients to prevent contamination elsewhere. From the CDC:

  • The storage space should meet all applicable fire codes and principles of maintaining a clutter-free, safe environment.
  • Waste bags should never be overfilled. Bags should be closed when two thirds full.
  • If stored within the patient room, all filled solid waste bags and sharps containers should undergo primary closure procedures.

Zika Virus

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “from 1 January 2007 to 6 April 2016, Zika virus transmission was documented in a total of 62 countries and territories.”

It is considered an emerging virus.

The CDC reports that the number of cases in the United States is fairly small; as of April 2016, there have been only 358 documented patients, all of which were travel-related.

Currently, there are no specific antiviral treatments for Zika, nor is there a vaccine to prevent it. This is why prevention is important. Proper medical waste management, which includes laboratory waste management and syringe and sharps disposal, are also essential safeguards against the spread of disease.

The list of procedures, processes, and safe-handling instructions are long and complex, but medical waste professionals are equipped to help healthcare facilities deal with emerging pathogens. MedXwaste’s OSHA compliance program can help your facility understand the ins and outs of medical waste removal as it pertains to Ebola and these other diseases.

Contact MedXwaste today to discuss an OSHA training program for your facility, and to learn about our equipment and routine services to remove pathogenic waste to keep you and your communities healthy.


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