SAIF update on Ebola for funeral directors

October 15, 2014   //   No Comments

Letter from Alun Tucker, Executive Chairman

Dear Colleague,

SAIF has received no official notification of precautions required should we be called upon to look after a deceased who may have contracted the Ebola disease, however I have found reference in the following guidance which was issued in 2008.   If and when further advice becomes available you will be notified immediately.

Kind regards

Alun Tucker F SAIF

Executive Chairman


‘The World Health Organization has called attention to a document issued in 2008 offering interim infection control recommendations for patients with suspected or confirmed diagnoses of filovirus haemorrhagic fever (HF), including Ebola or Marburg haemorrhagic feversebola. In the WHO’s Interim Infection Control Recommendations for Care of Patients With Suspected or Confirmed Filovirus (Ebola, Marburg) Haemorrhagic Fever, it is recommended that the handling of human remains be kept to a minimum. Further, WHO said remains should not be sprayed, washed or embalmed. WHO also noted that personnel handling remains should wear personal protective equipment (gloves, gowns, apron, surgical masks and eye protection) and closed shoes.

Protective equipment is not required for individuals driving or riding in a vehicle to collect human remains, WHO suggests. However, protective equipment should be put on at the site of collection of human remains and worn during the process of collection and placement in a body bag. WHO advised that protective equipment should be removed immediately after remains have been placed in a body bag and then placed inside a coffin, and remains should be wrapped in sealed, leak-proof material and buried promptly.

Application of disinfectants should be preceded by cleaning. WHO recommends:

  • Do not spray (i.e., fog) occupied or unoccupied clinical areas with disinfectant. This is a potentially dangerous practice that has no proven disease control benefit.
  • Wear gloves, gown and closed shoes when cleaning the environment and handling infectious waste. Cleaning heavily soiled surfaces increases the risk of splashes. On these occasions, facial protection should be worn in addition to gloves, gown and closed, resistant shoes.
  • Soiled linen should be placed in clearly labelled, leak-proof bags or buckets at the site of use and the container surfaces should be disinfected (using an effective disinfectant) before removal from the site. Linen should be transported directly to the laundry area and laundered promptly with water and detergent. For low-temperature laundering, wash linen with detergent and water, rinse and then soak in 0.05 percent chlorine for approximately 30 minutes. Linen should then be dried according to routine standards and procedures.
  • Linen that has been used by HF patients can be heavily contaminated with body fluids (e.g., blood, vomit) and splashes may result during handling. When handling soiled linen from HF patients, use gloves, gown, closed shoes and facial protection.
  • If safe cleaning and disinfection of heavily soiled linen is not possible or reliable, it may be prudent to burn the linen to avoid any unnecessary risks to individuals handling these items.’


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