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Published: May, 2013; Vol 9, Num 12

 

Mosquitos Bring Threat of West Nile Virus

Alternate description

LHSFNA Management Co-Chairman Noel C. Borck

"Outdoor construction really buzzes in warmer weather, " says LHSFNA Management Co-Chairman Noel C. Borck."Unfortunately, so do mosquitos. This puts Laborers at increased risk for contracting West Nile Virus, a disease that causes flu-like symptoms and can be fatal."

Mosquitos spread the virus. The insects become carriers after feeding on infected birds. Mosquitos are usually found near standing water and in weedy and wooded areas. They are most active during dawn and dusk in the warmer months of May through October.

"Last year was one of the worst on record for West Nile Virus," Borck reports. "More than 5,000 cases and more than 200 deaths from the disease were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Make sure you take appropriate precautions."

Symptoms of West Nile Virus Include:

  • Fever
  • Headaches/body aches
  • Rash
  • Swollen lymph nodes

West Nile Virus can also cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) which can lead to permanent neurological damage and death.

Protect Against West Nile Virus

Employers:

  • Eliminate standing water where mosquitos can lay eggs: remove, turn over or clean out old tires, buckets, rain gutters, tarps, wheelbarrows and any debris where water can collect.
  • Fill in holes and soil depressions.
  • Ensure drain covers and lids for containers such as trash cans and dumpsters are on properly.
  • Remove, mow or cut back grass and brush.
  • When possible, limit work at sunrise and sunset when mosquitoes are most active.

Workers:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants and socks.
  • Spray clothing with repellants containing DEET, permethrins or another EPA-registered repellent. Wash clothes before reuse.
  • Do not spray or apply repellents containing permethrin directly to exposed skin.
  • Spray skin with repellant containing DEET; follow directions carefully; avoid concentrations higher than 33% (for children 2 - 12 use 10% DEET; do not use on children under the age of 2 years).

In past years, West Nile Virus has been reported in 48 states. Eighty percent of the cases have been from 13 states: Texas (one third of all cases), California, Louisiana, Illinois, Mississippi, South Dakota, Michigan, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Colorado, Arizona, Ohio and New York.

A West Nile Virus health alert is available from the LHSFNA. Click on Publications to order.

[Janet Lubman Rathner]