Safety Comes First: Protecting Yourself From Zika

September 14, 2016 at 4:20 pm  •  Posted in Construction, Safety  •  0 Comments

Mosquitos are just plain annoying: they put a damper on outdoor events, steal away our precious shuteye, and relentlessly buzz in our ears at night. (At least spiders gobble up houseflies and spin cool webs.) But now there’s a different worry that’s hitting closer to home: Zika.

According to OSHA (Virus Protection for Outdoor Workers), “Outdoor workers may be at the greatest risk of exposure to Zika virus, which is primarily spread through the bites of infected mosquitoes.”

Article Contents:
We don’t know a lot about Zika at this point, and it’s natural to be concerned. This mosquito-borne illness is being reported in various locations around the world, including America. In this article, we’ll cover the facts, common symptoms, and how you can protect yourself.

*These tips aren’t a substitute for medical care. When in doubt, consult a healthcare professional. 

The Facts

As of August 1, 2016, here’s what the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) knows about Zika:

  • Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that’s transmitted by “Aedes” mosquitos. These pesky critters are “aggressive daytime biters,” but can also strike after dark.
  • Miami has documented multiple cases of Zika, as reported by the Florida Department of Health.
  • Infection during pregnancy is serious. Zika can cause birth defects, including microcephaly and other severe brain defects.
  • Zika can be transmitted between partners.
  • There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika.

Zika In The U.S.

According to WPBF West Palm Beach (Second case of non-travel-related Zika virus in Palm Beach County), on August 24, 2016, Governor Rick Scott announced that there was a second case of non-travel-related Zika reported in Palm Beach County.

There have been 43 non-travel-related cases reported in the state of Florida so far, according to the article. The CDC validates this claim, affirming that (as of August 22, 2016), Zika has been reported in three U.S. territories and in two areas of Miami, Florida.

Here’s a map, state by state, of all the Zika cases reported in America (as of August 24, 2016).

The Symptoms

According to a factsheet updated by the World Health Organization on June 2, 2016 (Zika Virus: Key Facts), Zika virus requires no specific treatment, and symptoms are generally quite mild. According to the CDC, many people don’t even realize they’ve been infected.

Zika symptoms mimic other mosquito-borne viruses, like dengue or chikungunya, and can last for several days to a week. Common symptoms include:

  • Rash
  • Fever
  • Joint Pain
  • Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain

If you’ve worked in or traveled to an area with Zika, watch for symptoms. If you think you might be infected, see your doctor and get tested.

Protect Yourself

When it comes to safety, prevention is key. To protect against Zika, the CDC recommends using an EPA-registered insect repellent with one of the following active ingredients:

  • DEET
  • Picaridin (also known as KBR 3023, Bayrepel, and icaridin)
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD)
  • IR3535

To help outdoor workers protect themselves, OSHA published the “Zika Protection for Outdoor Workers” Quick Guide. If you live or work in Florida, take extra precaution. To protect yourself against Zika, here’s what OSHA recommends:

  1. Spray insect repellent onto gear or clothing, and reapply as directed.
  2. Choose an EPA-registered insect repellent that provides protection for the amount of time you’ll be outdoors.
  3. Reduce or eliminate mosquito breeding areas by getting rid of sources of standing water, such as buckets, cans, tires, bottles, and barrels.
  4. Wear clothing that covers your skin. In warm weather, choose loose-fitting, lightweight clothing that provides a barrier from mosquitos.
  5. Wear a hat with a mosquito net, to protect the face and neck.
  6. Talk to your employer or supervisor about work assignments or travel to Zika-infected areas.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of Zika, seek medical attention immediately.

Over to You

Join the conversation by leaving a comment below, or connecting with us on Twitter @GraybarESP or on Facebook.

Sources & Credits
OSHA Quick Card: Zika Virus Protection for Outdoor Workers
Center for Disease Control and Prevention: About Zika
WPBF West Palm Beach: Second case of non-travel-related Zika virus in Palm Beach County
Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Zika Cases Reported in the United States
World Health Organization: Zika Virus: Key Facts


Todd Reed, National Market ManagerAbout The Author
Todd Reed, National Market Manager

As National Market Manager at Graybar, Todd’s goal is to find the best products and solutions to help contractors work more efficiently, stay safe on the job, and win more productive and profitable business.

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