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Published on Aug 17, 2016
Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that has made international headlines in recent years as it spreads to countries where it had previously not been found. In 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) even declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern due to the Zika virus.
Currently, there is no vaccine for Zika. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the virus is spread primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus). These mosquitoes are aggressive daytime biters, but can also bite at night.
According to the CDC, many people infected with the Zika virus won’t have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms. The most common symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis. Other symptoms may include muscle pain and headache. These can last for several days to a week and many people don’t get sick enough to require hospitalization. However, the virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus and infection during pregnancy can cause birth defects. The CDC also reports the virus can be spread through sex and potentially through blood transfusions.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) state that outdoor workers may be at the greatest risk of exposure to the Zika virus. The agencies report that employers should train workers about their risks of exposure to the Zika virus through mosquito bites, direct contact with infectious blood and other body fluids, and how to protect themselves.
A few of the ways outdoor workers can protect themselves include: • Using insect repellents and protective clothing for all exposed skin. • Eliminating areas where mosquitoes breed at worksites. • If symptoms do develop, seeking medical attention promptly.
These are just a few things to know about the Zika virus and potential occupational exposure risks. To learn more about this or other occupational and environmental or health and safety issues, please visit the websites shown below.