Getting WCOs Prepared for Zoonotics
Zoonotics are diseases transmitted from wildlife to humans. While trappers have been working with wildlife for centuries, it is still important for wildlife control operators to be aware of the zoonotics risks involved in controlling wildlife.
Doctors Are Not Looking for Zoonotics
Medical students have a saying, “When you hear hoof beats, don’t look for zebras.” The point is think of the obvious causes not the obscure. House M.D. may make good T.V. but it’s not normal or typical medicine. Unfortunately, for WCOs we’re not normal. Unlike the general public, we are involved and in close contact with wildlife. So make sure you remind your doctor that you work with wildlife.
Read the policy of the USDA-APHIS-Wildlife Services regarding zoonotics http://www.aphis.usda.gov/library/forms/pdf/APHIS260a.pdf It can provide your company with a good start for establishing policies to protect your employees from zoonotics.
Carry the Card
To help remind your worker and his/her doctor that these ordinary sniffles might be from a zoonotic origin, have them carry the “card.” Use the wording found here http://www.aphis.usda.gov/library/forms/pdf/APHIS260a.pdf and put your own company info on it. Remind your workers regularly to ensure that they show medical personnel about their activities with wildlife.
While the illness may not be zoonotic in origin, it might. It is good to be safe.
About the Author
Stephen M. Vantassel is a certified wildlife control operator who writes, speaks, and consults about wildlife damage management issues.