Oklahoma residents may have heard the news about the Zika virus spreading to the continental United States. In July, four people in the Miami area contracted Zika after being bitten by local mosquitoes. Before the Florida cases, it was only found in South America and the Caribbean, and Americans were only believed to be at risk for Zika if they traveled to those areas.

Now that Zika mosquitoes are in the U.S., employers must be vigilant about protecting their employees from mosquito bites. Though symptoms of Zika are usually mild in adults, the virus can cause severe birth defects in unborn children when a woman is infected before or during a pregnancy. Employers in the southeastern United States should be especially careful about mosquitoes in the workplace.

Employers that are on alert for Zika can prevent mosquito bites by providing their employees with mosquito repellent and using it on the company’s property. All sources of stagnant water should be cleared from a work site so that they do not attract mosquitoes. If work that is being done outside can be performed inside, it may be better to relocate workers to an indoor location. Work that must be done outside should not be done during dawn or dusk as these are the times of day when mosquitoes are the most active.

A person who has contracted an illness at work after being bitten by a mosquito may file a workers’ compensation claim. The worker may pursue financial compensation for their workplace illness regardless of whether or not negligent workplace safety practices were to blame for the mosquito bite. An attorney may be able to help a worker to assess the financial damages caused by their illness so that the worker can pursue the maximum in compensation.