Outdoor Workers at Risk From Insect-borne Diseases

May 11, 1999
It's little surprise that 18- to 34-year-olds are at the heart of a nationwide increase in illegal drug use, and the manufacturing industry traditionally draws heavily from this pool of job seekers.

The Ohio Department of Health warns that outdoor workers in 30 states face a greater occupational health risk than sunburn or poison ivy this summer: insect-borne diseases are on the rise.

Warm weather heralds a rash of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme Disease and La Crosse encephalitis cases, and a growing number of cases of a fairly new and sometimes fatal disease, Ehrlichiosis.

All four diseases are transmitted through bites from bacteria-infected ticks and mosquitoes, and all are preventable.

Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into boot tops when working in tick- and mosquito-infested areas; applying repellents to exposed skin; being alert to symptoms of these types of illnesses; limiting exposure in infested areas; and taking steps to eliminate tick and mosquito breeding areas are important preventive measures.

Workers who have been bitten should seek prompt medical help, and should take any ticks removed from their skin to the doctor to aid in diagnosing the illness.

For more information, call the Ohio Department of Health at 614-466-3543, your state department of health or the Centers for Disease Control at 888-232-3228.

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