Hazards Of Lyme Disease And West Nile Virus And Symptoms Of Exposure

Lyme Disease

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As we mentioned earlier, Lyme disease is the most commonly reported tick-borne disease in the United States. U.S. workers in the northeastern and north-central States are at the highest risk of exposure to infected ticks. 70-80 percent of Lyme disease is passed to humans by the bite of black-legged ticks (also known as deer ticks in the eastern United States) and western black-legged ticks infected with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. The Lyme disease bacterium normally lives in mice, squirrels, and other small mammals.

Victims will develop a “bulls-eye” rash. Other signs and symptoms may be non-specific and similar to flu-like symptoms such as:

  • fever
  • lymph node swelling,
  • neck stiffness
  • generalized fatigue
  • headaches
  • migrating joint aches
  • muscle aches

Most cases can be successfully treated with antibiotics, especially if treatment is started early. However, some workers may have symptoms such as arthritis, muscle and joint pain, or fatigue for an extended period.

West Nile Virus (WNV)

West Nile Virus (WNV)

West Nile virus is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. CDC reports that in four out of five cases, persons infected with WNV show no symptoms. In almost 20% of the cases, infections result in very mild flu-like symptoms, called West Nile fever.

The typical time from infection to the onset of signs and symptoms is 3 to 14 days. Signs and symptoms of the milder West Nile Fever and more severe infection (West Nile encephalitis or meningitis) include:

  • Mild West Nile Fever – Headache, fever, tiredness, aches, nausea/vomiting, swollen lymph nodes, skin rash.
  • West Nile encephalitis/meningitis – All the above plus stiffness in neck, stupor, possible coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, paralysis, loss of vision.

Protect yourself from vector-borne tick and mosquito hazards with these precautions:

  • Wear light-colored clothes to see ticks more easily.
  • Wear long sleeves; tuck pant legs into socks or boots.
  • Wear high boots or closed shoes that cover your feet completely.
  • Wear a hat.
  • Shower after work. Wash and dry your work clothes at high temperature.
  • Examine your body for ticks after work. Remove any attached ticks promptly and carefully with fine-tipped tweezers by gripping the tick. Do not use petroleum jelly, a hot match, or nail polish to remove the tick.
  • Apply Picaridin or insect repellent with DEET to exposed skin.
  • Spray clothing with repellents containing DEET or permethrin. (Note: Do not spray permethrin directly onto exposed skin.)
  • Be extra vigilant at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Get rid of sources of standing water (used tires, buckets) to reduce or eliminate mosquito breeding areas.

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