Lansing, MI -- May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month and also the beginning of tick season in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere. Occupational exposure to Lyme disease is a significant concern for millions of workers who spend much of their time outdoors in areas known to have disease-causing ticks.
In North America, the disease is caused by the bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that Lyme disease can also be contracted in temperate forested regions throughout Europe and northern parts of Asia.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), “All outdoor workers should check with their supervisor if they have questions about possible exposure to Lyme disease.” The agency reports that workers at risk of Lyme disease include, but are not limited to, those working in construction, landscaping, forestry, brush clearing, land surveying, farming, railroad work, oil field work, utility line work, park or wildlife management, and other outdoor work.
“The CDC states that Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in the United States,” said David Roskelley, CIH® and Chair of ABIH®. “Worldwide, outdoor workers have numerous other tick-borne disease exposure risks. These include tick-borne encephalitis (TBE), tularemia and Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever to name just a few of many.”
Employers have a responsibility to educate their workers who spend a significant portion of their time outdoors about protecting themselves. Certified Industrial Hygienists (CIHs) are uniquely qualified to help with these efforts as they are trained in biohazards, health risk analysis, hazard communication, work environments and personal protective equipment. These and other core competencies of the CIH® program are instrumental for helping to prevent tick-borne diseases and protecting the health of workers.
To learn more about the American Board of Industrial Hygiene®, Certified Industrial Hygienist® credential or to locate a CIH® to perform industrial hygiene services, please visit www.ABIH.org, email abih@ABIH.org or call (517) 321-2638.