OSHA Warns Outdoor Workers About Lyme Disease

OSHA's latest Hazard Information Bulletin advises employers how to reduce the risk of Lyme disease in outdoor workers.

Workers who spend most of their time outdoors may want to read OSHA''s latest Hazard Information Bulletin on Lyme disease.

This bulletin advises employers how to implement an effective protection program in order to reduce the risk of Lyme disease in outdoor workers.

If undiagnosed and untreated, Lyme disease, a tick-borne illness that affected more than 16,000 people in 1998, may cause chronic arthritis, heart disease and neurologic disorders.

However, if recognized early, Lyme disease can, in most cases, be successfully treated with standard antibiotic regimens.

The areas in the United States with the highest risk of Lyme disease are in the northeast, from Massachusetts to Maryland; the north-central region including Wisconsin and Minnesota; and an area in northern California in the pacific-coastal region.

Outdoor workers in occupations such as construction, landscaping and forestry working in heavily wooded or grassy area are at increased risk of exposure to Lyme disease bearing ticks.

Workers can help prevent Lyme disease by avoiding tick habitats, wearing clothing that keeps ticks from reaching the skin, using insect replants, and considering with their physician use of a protective vaccine.

The Hazard Information Bulletin follows the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The bulletin and a fact sheet on Lyme disease can be found on the OSHA Web site at www.osha.gov. More detailed information regarding Lyme disease can be found at www.cdc.gov.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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