In a recent post, we warned outdoor California workers about the potential risks of heat exposure in the workplace. However, outdoor workers may face another, less obvious threat: Lyme disease.
According to a recent release by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, workers whose duties place them at risk for Deer tick bites should be warned of the signs and symptoms of the disease. If treated early, antibiotics are very effective in curing this bacterial infection. In later stages, however, the disease may develop into an autoimmune response — which might not always respond to medication. In such cases, symptoms may linger, such as chronic joint pain in the knees, elbow or ankles, or perhaps memory problems.
Nationwide, there were almost 30,000 reported and confirmed cases of Lyme disease in 2009. Although not every Deer tick may be infected with the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, an estimated 20% might be disease carrying. Those odds, combined with the prevalence of Deer ticks in grassy or wooded areas in California and across the country, give rise for caution.
One of the best preventative measures that outdoor workers can take is a visual inspection at the end of each workday. The risk of contracting Lyme disease is greatly reduced if a tick is removed within 24 hours of its first bite. That visual inspection should look for both ticks and any bull’s eye rashes.
If an outdoor worker is diagnosed with Lyme’s disease, worker’s compensation might be available, although an employer might request proof that the bite actually occurred as an on-the-job injury. A worker facing this scenario might benefit from a consultation with a worker’s compensation lawyer.
Source: huffingtonpost.com, “Lyme Disease Myths: 9 Things You Should Know About The Tick-Borne Disease,” Sarah Klein, May 20, 2013