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Help Workers Avoid Vector-Borne Pathogens From Ticks, Mosquitoes

Fri May 25, 2018 - National Edition
Emily Buenzle

To help you and your crew avoid mosquito- and tick-borne diseases, OSHA has provided some guidelines.
To help you and your crew avoid mosquito- and tick-borne diseases, OSHA has provided some guidelines.

For industries that require outside work, like construction and landscaping, this time of year brings forth hazards that could lead to life-threatening illnesses if precautions are not taken.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vector-borne pathogens including Lyme disease; West Nile, dengue and Zika virus; Plague; and Spotted fever rickettsioses are being transmitted by mosquitos and ticks in areas of the U.S., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa, JDSupra reported. Although the CDC said that malaria and yellow fever are not currently seeing transmission in the U.S., they could be reintroduced.

Between 2004 and 2016, 642,602 cases of vector-borne diseases were reported, the CDC said. Here's the breakdown:

  • Tick-borne bacterial and protozoan diseases rose from more than 22,000 in 2004 to more than 48,000 in 2016;
  • Lyme disease made up 82 percent of all tick-borne diseases reported in the continental U.S.;
  • The most reports of mosquito-borne illnesses, including dengue, chikungunya and Zika, came from Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa. However, West Nile virus, which is also transmitted by mosquitos, was reported in the continental U.S., JDSupra reported.
All About Prevention

To help you and your crew avoid these diseases, OSHA has provided some guidelines:

  • Stay away from overgrown grass, brush and wooded areas;
  • Reduce tick, deer and rodent habitats by eliminating leaves, tall grass and brush near your worksite;
  • Eliminate areas where standing water can collect;
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and tuck pants into socks or boots to prevent tick and mosquito bites;
  • Wear high boots or closed shoes that offer the most possible foot coverage;
  • Wear a hat with mosquito netting attached to it;
  • Use insect repellants that contain DEET on any exposed areas of skin (but not the face). Permethrin will kill ticks on contact, so use that on any clothing;
  • Choose light-colored clothing so you can spot and remove ticks more easily before they bite; and
  • Perform a thorough body check for mosquito bites and ticks. If you do find a tick, remove it immediately with tweezers—never use petroleum jelly, a hot match, nail polish or other products.

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