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You have probably heard of Zika, but did you know that the risks of being affected can vary? You may be more at risk for Zika if you are an outdoor worker or a business traveler in areas with Zika, or a healthcare worker or a laboratorian potentially exposed to Zika.
So, what do you need to know to keep safe on the job in order to protect you and your family from Zika?
Zika virus is primarily spread through the bites of infected mosquitoes. Additionally, Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus, and infection during pregnancy is associated with a serious birth defect called microcephaly and other severe brain defects. Zika can also be passed through sex from a person with Zika to his or her sex partners.
The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes). However, many people infected with Zika virus won't have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms. There is no vaccine to prevent Zika virus infection, and there is no specific treatment for people who become infected.
The mosquitoes that spread Zika bite during both the day and night. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have developed a series of recommendations for protecting workers from the virus. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), OSHA and NIOSH recommend all outdoor workers take these actions to protect themselves from mosquito bites while working in areas with Zika:
Business travelers should:
All at-risk workers should:
For more information on how workers can protect themselves, visit the NIOSH Zika topic page and the CDC Zika website. You can also learn more by viewing a seminar posted by the National Safety Council here.