West Nile Virus In The Workplace

Humans are infected by the West Nile virus if they are bitten by an infected mosquito.

In the workplace, humans are usually protected from infected mosquitoes because offices and establishments are usually enclosed and air conditioned. However, there are still workers who are exposed to infected mosquitoes, and therefore their chances of contracting the virus are high.

Outdoor workers such as farmers, foresters, landscapers, groundskeepers and gardeners, painters, roofers, pavers, construction workers, laborers, mechanics, and others are at exposed to, and therefore, are at risk of contracting the virus.

Researchers such as entomologists and other field workers are also at risk from being bitten while conducting surveillance and other studies outdoors. The risk of WNV infection in the workplace is not limited to workers who perform their duties outdoors.

People who work in laboratories and clinical workers who perform necropsies of infected birds or handle infected tissues or fluids are also at risk from contracting WNV infections if their skin is cut and the WNV infected substance gets into the wound.

To prevent, or at least, lower the risks of being infected by the West Nile Virus in the workplace, employees should receive trainings and guidelines that describe and the potential risks exposure and infection.

Timely reporting of illnesses which is suspected to have been contracted from the workplace should be emphasized. Lastly, there should be a medical surveillance system in place in the work area to monitor and report WNV-like infection symptoms, laboratory incidents and/or accidents which involve possible exposure to the virus, as well as employee attendance.

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