In Ohio, one danger that’s becoming increasingly common among those employed outdoors is Lyme disease.
Lyme disease is spread to humans from the bite of carrier ticks infected with Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. Until fairly recently, the risk of an Ohio worker contracting the disease was relatively small — but the carrier ticks have now been found in at least 66 Ohio counties.
Early symptoms of the disease include muscle and joint pain, headaches, fevers, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes and (sometimes) a “bulls eye” rash at the site of the bite. While some people can be cured of the disease with prompt administration of antibiotics, others may go on to develop long-term complications — like chronic joint pain and fatigue — for years following the bite.
Workers within some industries are naturally more at risk than others. For example, employees who work for the forestry department or wildlife control units are often in rural, wooded areas where ticks thrive.
Even within certain industries, a worker’s risk of exposure may vary significantly by the project. For example, a construction worker who is building an apartment complex in the center of a city is less likely to be exposed to a tick bite than someone working on a new home on a wooded lot in the country. Other occupations that might put an employee at risk of Lyme disease include farming, landscaping, road repair, railroad line work and utility line installation or care.
Any Ohio worker who might be in a danger zone needs to be aware of the increasing risk of Lyme disease and encouraged to take precautions against tick bites while on the job. Light-colored clothing, pants that are tucked into socks and boots, hats and long-sleeved shirts generally help keep insects from biting. Using an insect repellent that’s designed specifically to keep ticks away is also helpful. Outdoor workers should also be educated about Lyme disease, so that they don’t dismiss initial symptoms as nothing more than the flu.
If you were bitten by a tick at work and now have Lyme disease, you’re entitled to workers’ compensation for any medical bills, lost wages and ongoing symptoms. However, since diagnosis is sometimes complicated or delayed, your employer may not be quick to approve your claim. If that becomes an issue, seek legal assistance right away.
Source: Ohio Hospital Newswire, “Fight the Bite with Lyme Disease Awareness Month,” May 05, 2017