As of July 6, more than 1100 cases of Zika had been reported in the United States, about 40 percent of them in Florida and New York. Don’t panic: all those patients recovered.
But the fact is, Zika cases are on the rise, and smart employers will consider how they can protect their workers from contracting it.
Now is the time, since Zika is primarily a mosquito-borne virus—and summer is when the mosquito population explodes. (It should be noted that Zika may also be transmitted via blood or bodily fluids.)
There’s no vaccine to protect against Zika, and there’s no specific treatment for individuals who contract the disease. So the key is prevention.
While it would behoove an employer to educate all employees on the risks of exposure to Zika—and to provide information about possible Zika links to birth defects to women who are or may become pregnant, or employees whose partners are or may become pregnant—certain classes of workers who may be at greater risk. Outdoor workers, for instance, maybe have a greater exposure to mosquito bites. Healthcare professionals or lab workers who are exposed to bodily fluids may also be at greater risk of infection.
What can employers do?
- Educate workers on the risk of Zika. The CDC Zika website offers the most up-to-date information.
- Encourage outdoor workers to wear clothing that covers hands, arms, legs, and other exposed skin. Consider providing workers with hats including mosquito-netting veils.
- Eliminate sources of standing water, which can serve as mosquito breeding areas.
- Encourage workers to apply appropriate insect repellents. Click here for recommendations on repellents and application tips.
- If your employees work in an environment, such as a hospital or lab, where they may be exposed to infected bodily fluids, ensure that they are equipped with appropriate personal protective equipment, and that all staff follow safety guidelines and procedures.
Beall Financial and Insurance Services has been working with business-owners for more than 25 years to help them protect their most important assets, and their companies’ future. If you have questions about insurance coverage for your business, contact us.