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Insect-borne diseases on the rise, CDC says

Diseases transmitted through the bites of germ-carrying mosquitoes, fleas and ticks are on the rise according to a report that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published in May. The number of cases involving these diseases has more than tripled from 2004 to 2016. Between those two years, there were over 640,000 cases of Zika fever, dengue fever, plague, Lyme disease and other domestic diseases. Outdoor workers in New Jersey should especially take note.

According to the CDC, outdoor workers are one of the groups most at risk for insect-borne illnesses. Regarding the efforts of local and state health departments and vector control organizations, the CDC has found that they are largely inadequate. Approximately 84 percent of such organizations neglect at least one of five core competencies. These competencies are conducting mosquito surveillance, selecting treatments based on surveillance data, killing mosquitoes and ticks at all life stages, performing source reduction and testing for pesticide resistance.

The typical symptoms of an insect-borne illness range from fever and fatigue to skin rashes to paralysis. To protect themselves, workers are advised to bathe daily; wear clean, light-colored clothing; expose as little skin as possible; and spray any exposed skin with an insect repellent containing 20 to 50 percent DEET. They should also strive to keep their work area clean.

Before filing a workers compensation claim for insect-borne illnesses, victims may want to consult with a lawyer. A lawyer may be helpful for gathering proof that the illness arose because of poor work conditions. It is unnecessary to prove that the employer or anyone else in particular was negligent. In serious cases, the lawyer might try for a settlement covering more than medical bills and a percentage of lost wages. If the claim is denied, the lawyer may help with an appeal.

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