CDC: insect-borne illness cases more than triple

From 2004 to 2016, there were more than 640,000 cases of insect-borne illnesses, including Zika fever, dengue fever, plague and Lyme disease. Between those two years, the number of such cases more than tripled. This is according to a report published in May by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents should be of interests to outdoor workers in Missouri.

The diseases in question are transmitted through mosquito, flea and tick bites. These insects are transported across the country by way of commerce, so an increase in commerce may partly explain the increase in illness cases. The wide-ranging symptoms of these illnesses include fever, fatigue, neck stiffness, body pain, skin rashes and paralysis. Outdoor workers make up just one group that's at risk.

Health departments and vector control organizations at the state and local level are supposed to keep outdoor workers safe. However, the CDC points out that 84 percent of these organizations fail to follow at least one of five core competencies. Among these are the need for mosquito surveillance, the elimination of mosquitoes and ticks at all life stages and the regular testing of pesticide resistance.

Workers can protect themselves with insect repellents containing 20 to 50 percent DEET. Wearing light-colored clothing, covering as much skin as possible and avoiding perfumes are also highly recommended.

Those who incur insect-borne illnesses will want to find out if this is due to poor workplace safety. That way, they can be eligible for workers compensation benefits. It may take an attorney and his or her team of professionals to prove this. Victims should understand that filing for these benefits will waive their right to sue the employer for negligence. They may have their attorney mount an appeal if the claim is denied.

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