When Laborers are working in outdoor construction this time of year, insect repellant is something they should never be without. Mosquitoes are out and about and sometimes they leave more behind than itchy bites.
Finding Someone to Bite
People have preferences for what they like to snack on. Mosquitoes have preferences too. Because of the physical nature of their jobs, construction workers are very appealing. According to researchers at the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) mosquitoes are particularly attracted to people who are:
- Moving (Activity can increase biting by up to 50 percent.)
- Breathing heavily (Mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide.)
- Sweating (Mosquitoes are attracted to lactic acid and body odors.)
- Wearing dark clothing (Mosquitoes are attracted by sight and pastel colors aren’t as easy to spot.)
Like ticks, (see Lifelines, Spring Is Here and So Are Ticks) mosquitoes can transmit serious and sometimes deadly illnesses. West Nile virus is of particular concern in the United States and Canada. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), West Nile virus sickened more than 2,000 people last year and was responsible for 85 deaths.
Laborers and anyone who spends time outside are at risk for West Nile virus and other lesser known but no less dangerous mosquito-borne diseases. Precautions should be taken every day to protect against being bitten.
West Nile virus and most other mosquito-borne illnesses have similar symptoms that include:
- Headaches/body aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
In severe cases, these illnesses can also cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord). Permanent neurological damage and death can result.
Take steps to keep West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses out of construction sites.
- 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.
- Ensure drain covers and lids for containers such as trash cans and dumpsters are on properly.
- Fill in holes and soil depressions.
- Remove, mow or cut back grass and brush.
- Wear light-colored, long-sleeved shirts, pants and socks.
- Spray clothing with repellants containing DEET, permethrin 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 and avoid concentrations higher than 33 percent.
The LHSFNA’s Health Alert on West Nile virus contains additional information for protecting against all mosquito-borne illnesses. Order by clicking on Publications.
[Janet Lubman Rathner]