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Tips to Protect Yourself from the Zika Virus

Zika is a mosquito-borne disease that spread to the United States from the Caribbean, Central and South America, and Mexico. According to the Department of Labor, there are four cases in Florida so far, but theoretically, Zika could spread to any area with mosquitoes. To help workers and employers protect themselves, the Occupational Safety Health Administration released several interim guides. This post will go over some of those safety tips.

If your job takes you outdoors, OSHA recommends that you wear clothing that covers your hands, arms, legs and other exposed skin. There are also mosquito netting hats that protect your neck and face. But don't overdo it with heavy clothes, wear something light and loose-fitting to avoid heat-related illnesses. Since mosquitoes carry Zika, bug repellent can also help keep you safe.

Mosquitoes also prefer environments with standing (still) water. If you notice any puddles, tires, cans bottles, ponds or other sources of standing water try to drain it. If you are unable to remove or avoid the water, then take extra precautions with your clothing.

Finally, Zika is linked to causing birth defects, so it is imperative that pregnant women avoid exposure. If you or your partner is pregnant or may become pregnant, then you may want to speak to your supervisor about temporary reassignments to avoid exposure.

Zika is spread through bug bites, but it is also known to spread through an exchange of blood or bodily fluids. Evidence so far suggests that you will experience symptoms two to seven days after a bite. The symptoms are typically mild, like fever, joint pain, red eyes, rash, headache, and muscle pain.

If you become sickened on the job, either due to Zika or some other disease, then you may have a valid claim for workers' compensation. Workers' compensation is paid out to employees who are injured (or sickened) on the job and due to their job. A lawyer can go over your situation and help decide the best strategy to address these matters.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, "How to Protect Workers from Zika Exposure," Mandy Edens, Aug 2, 2016

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