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How to Address Zika in the Workplace

Author: Gloria Ju

Employers can no longer ignore the Zika virus outbreak now that cases of locally transmitted infection have been confirmed in the US. It is an issue that can easily affect any employer, as employees may work outside, have job duties that take them to Zika-affected areas or employees may choose to travel to such areas.

The Zika virus is transmitted through the bites of infected mosquitoes and through direct contact with infected blood or other bodily fluids. Therefore, anyone can potentially become infected and transmit the virus. The Zika virus may cause severe birth defects (e.g., microcephaly) and has been linked to Guillain-Barre syndrome. Many people only suffer a mild illness or do not develop any symptoms at all, but can still transmit the virus.

Currently, there is no Zika vaccination or treatment, so prevention and education is extremely important. An employer should take all necessary steps to protect its employees and educate them on ways to prevent potential transmission of the Zika virus.