Last August, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) issued a warning that construction workers are at risk of contracting the West Nile virus; this summer, the risk continues.

The disease is spread through mosquito bites. Most people exposed to the virus get flu-like symptoms (fever, headache, body aches, skin rash on the trunk or swollen lymph glands) and recover. However, some may get encephalitis, a swelling of the brain that can be fatal.

The virus was first discovered in the United States in 1998 when it killed some crows in the northeast. However, it has spread rapidly across the country. Last year, human cases were reported in 39 states and animal cases in 44. In Canada, the first human cases were reported in Ontario last summer.

Protections Against West Nile Virus


  • Eliminate standing water on worksites – in old tires, buckets, rain gutters, tarps or wheelbarrows (mosquitoes lay eggs in water that stands more than four days)


  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants and socks
  • Spray thin clothing with repellants containing DEET or permethrins; do not spray under the clothing; wash clothes before reuse
  • 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 less than two)

For more information go to: CDC.

[Steve Clark]