The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) along with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published on Friday guidelines for employers to follow and protect their workers from the spread and consequences of the Zika virus.
With the mosquito season coming up within the next few months, federal authorities are preparing for the possible spread of the Zika virus nationwide through the Aedes aegypti mosquito.
In light of this, they advise employers to consider letting workers at risk of the disease’s consequences to work indoors if they are in areas where Zika is present. The guidelines recommended employers to inform and train the staff about their risks of exposure, especially outdoors workers, to the mosquito bite and other possible ways of infection like the contact with fluids or blood from an already infected person, according to the report.
“Employers should provide information about Zika virus infection, including modes of transmission and possible links to birth defects, to workers who are pregnant or may become pregnant or whose sexual partners are or may become pregnant,” the CDC wrote in its guidelines.
Special attention was given to outdoors workers, healthcare providers and mosquito control workers, due to their likely exposure to the bite of the mosquito. For outdoors workers and mosquito control workers the advices were almost the same, the need for them to use proper equipment to protect skin exposure to the bites.
Employers should provide the materials and encourage workers to use them, as well take special attention to pregnant women, those who intend to get pregnant soon, and even their partners, due to the sexually transmission of the disease.
For medical workers, the CDC encouraged staff members and employers to follow good infection control and biosafety practices to prevent or minimize the risk of transmission of the infectious agents. They should also wash their hands in a regular basis, the CDC said. However, the advices are just that, advices, so the preventions commented in the guidelines are optional and their unfulfilled cannot be legally reprehended.
For suspected or confirmed Zika
The guideline took into account people who cannot follow the preventions because they were already infected. For those individuals and workers already infected with the virus, the CDC recommends to get plenty of rest, drink fluids to prevent dehydration and see a healthcare provider for a complete diagnosis.
In addition, to avoid the spread of the disease, it was recommended for infected people to also avoid mosquito bites by wearing clothing that covers the skin. Also, for preventing the disease from infecting their sexual partner, the CDC recommended abstaining from sexual activity or otherwise using condoms during the act. According to the federal agency, employers in this case should ensure that supervisors and all potentially exposed workers are aware of the symptoms of the virus and their development. They should as well consider options for granting sick leave during the infectious period.