As employees work outdoors this summer, they need to be aware that a potentially dangerous insect is lurking: the blacklegged deer tick. Though small, these insects pack a potentially dangerous bite. Some are as tiny as a poppy seed — so very difficult to know when one has attached to you. Most importantly, they can carry Lyme disease.
Lyme disease is on the rise and is an OSHA-reportable workplace incident. OSHA Guidelines for Reportable Incidents – Paragraph 1904.5(b)(3) In the case of Lyme disease, the employer would determine the case to be work-related if, for example, the employee was a groundskeeper with regular exposure to outdoor conditions likely to result in contact with deer ticks.
Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.
Experts at the University of Rhode Island TickEncounter Resource Center are hearing from people across most of the USA that all types of ticks seem to be more abundant this year than in the past. While this year’s increase may be partially related to current tick-favorable moist weather conditions, and an abundance of tick reproductive hosts last year, typically May and June are peak season for ticks anyway.
People’s tick encounter risk stays high as outdoor activities increase in July. “Our field surveys are indicating that nymph-stage blacklegged ticks loaded with Lyme disease are at near record levels in Rhode Island so far this Spring”, said Dr. Tom Mather, professor of Public Health Entomology at URI.
“American dog tick reports have been flooding in to TickEncounter from Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, and Virginia, especially, and Lone Star tick reports have been especially numerous from Missouri and Long Island, NY”, he added. Insect Shield® Repellent Apparel can make tick bite protection as easy as getting dressed in the morning. One TickSmart tip is to focus on protecting yourself and family from the ground up. Wearing repellent socks, pants and shorts whenever you go outdoors this Spring and Summer should be part of everyone’s tick bite protection plan.
1.) WHERE TICKS LIKE TO LIVE: Ticks are not out in the middle of your lawn, they live where yards border wooded areas, or anywhere it is shaded and there are leaves with high humidity. Place a layer of wood chips between your grass yard and the woods edge. Ticks are attracted to the wood chips because of the shade and moisture it provides.
2.) TICK CHECKS: Do periodic tick checks and carefully remove any found. (Wear light colored clothing so ticks are easier to find.)
3.) WORKING OUTDOORS: Try to remain in the center of a trail in order to minimize your exposure. Remember – ticks cannot fly, they crawl up. Avoid sitting directly on the ground, woodpiles or fallen logs – areas where ticks love to live.
4.) PERSONAL PROTECTION: Wear tick repellent work wear. Insect Shield repellent work wear is EPA registered to repel ticks (as well as a variety of other pesky and potentially dangerous insects.) The repellency is odorless, invisible and long-lasting. http://www.insectshield.com/shop