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West Nile Virus can cause illness and temporary disability

According to the California Department of Public Health, with the summer heat of June comes the threat of West Nile Virus. Reportedly, the first four confirmed cases of WNV-related illnesses have been recorded. WNV affects people in different ways, and while some victims may only show mild symptoms, the virus could cause temporary disability or worse. A small percentage of victims could develop meningitis, encephalitis or other serious neurologic illnesses, and it could even be fatal.

Employers and employees are urged to take the necessary precautions as protection and to limit exposure to mosquitoes. Last year, 553 cases of WNV were reported in California, of which 44 people died. A CDPH spokesperson warned that there is increased activity of WNV in California. Employers must ensure that workers are aware of the danger and know how to protect themselves.

Recommended precautions include the frequent application of appropriate insect repellent that will prevent mosquito bites. The virus is typically carried by mosquitoes that are active at dawn and dusk, so protective clothing and repellent are crucial at those times. These insects lay their eggs where they find standing water, and emptying anything in which water can accumulate can prevent them from breeding.

California workers who feel unwell after receiving mosquito bites should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Their conditions must be reported to supervisors or employers immediately in order to set the wheels in motion for workers' compensation benefits claims. An experienced attorney can assist with the navigation of the claim for benefits that will cover medical expenses and lost wages due to temporary disability.

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