Risk of Tick Bites & Insect-Related Illnesses
Winter is over, which means an increase in outdoor work is on its way.
And, for construction and other outdoor workers, it also means a higher risk for tick bites and other insect-related diseases.
According to a report from the Center for Disease Control, the rate of diseases stemming from insect bites – such as tick bites – has more than tripled between 2004 and 2016.
More than 640,000 domestic diseases were recorded in that time period, including dengue fever, Zika virus, Lyme disease and plague.
The CDC also reported that nine new germs from infected mosquito and tick bites have been introduced into the U.S.
In Pennsylvania, there are more reported tick-borne illnesses than in any other state. During the aforementioned 12-year span, there were 73,610 cases in the commonwealth, which currently has more than 25 identified species of ticks.
In 2016 alone, there were 48,000 tick-borne disease cases in the United States — 36,500 Lyme disease — and Pennsylvania reported over 11,000 of them.
How Employees Can Reduce the Risk of Insect Bites
While the CDC’s report advocates for increased environmental control as a defense, there are several steps employees can take on their own to reduce their risks of insect bites:
- Cover up as much as possible with light-colored clothing in a breathable fabric
- Bathe every day and avoid scented soaps, shampoos, deodorants, perfume, and cologne
- Keep work area as clean as possible
- Avoid swatting at flying insects, as this may cause them to sting or bite
- Check skin and clothing daily for ticks, especially after spending time near woods, bushes, high grass, or leaf litter
- Look for insect repellent with at least 20 percent DEET and apply to exposed skin and clothing, reapplying as necessary
Below are symptoms of insect-borne diseases:
- Body, muscle, and joint pain
- Stiff neck
- Stomach pain
Some diseases can be detected by looking at the bite area; for example, Lyme disease can be signaled by a bulls-eye shaped rash. Others may be more difficult to diagnose.
That’s why it’s important to schedule regular medical exams and check-ups — especially if your employees work outside.
Bringing It All Together
As the amount of ticks increases significantly, so too does the risk of tick, and other insect-related, illnesses.
You can help protect your team, and get them the proper medical testing if and when a bite occurs.
In all too many cases, a person infected with Lyme disease has no idea that he/she has even been bitten, let alone that he/she has the disease.
Don’t leave it to chance. If a worker starts to display some unusual symptoms, then it’s time to get him/her tested.
With Worksite Medical, you can now get Accutix testing, which provides results between 24-48 hours after specimen receipt.
When you’re ready to add Accutix to your medical surveillance plan, we will be here to help.