Protect your crews from West Nile virus

Are your crews taking appropriate precautions to prevent mosquito bites that transmit the West Nile virus? According to the CDC, there were 2,122 reported cases of West Nile virus disease in U.S. residents in 2014. The disease is carried by birds and mosquitoes and transmitted to people by mosquitoes. A total of 47 states and the District of Columbia reported West Nile virus infections in people, birds, or mosquitoes in 2014.

In most cases, people infected with West Nile virus either show no symptoms or have very mild flu-like symptoms, called West Nile fever. These mild cases of West Nile virus normally last only a few days and do not cause any long-term health problems. Severe cases, however, can result in much more serious illness, including inflammation of the brain or the tissues surrounding the brain (encephalitis and meningitis).

Workers can protect themselves against West Nile virus infection by:

• Using insect repellent. Workers should lightly apply insect repellents that contain DEET or picaridin to exposed skin, avoiding broken skin. They can apply the insecticide permethrin to clothing; clothes should be allowed to dry for 2 hours before wearing. Workers should wash treated skin and clothing when they come indoors.

• Eliminating breeding grounds. Mosquitoes breed in standing water, so workers should eliminate all sources of standing water, including small sources like trash can lids or irrigation control boxes. Items that might collect and hold water, such as wheelbarrows and buckets, should be stored upside down or covered. Other items, such as outdoor planters, should be drilled with drain holes.

Join Safety Daily Advisor on Tuesday, June 9, for their in-depth webinar, The Supervisor’s Role in Safety: How to Prevent Incidents by Supporting Day-to-Day Management.

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