Zoonotics and Showers
Wildlife control has many hazards. Diseases from wildlife is one of the most insidious because most infections manifest with “flu-like symptoms.” When wildlife control operators (WCOs) come down with aches, chills, fever, etc. they think they have the flu. While its possible that the worker has the flu (which is serious enough), it is also possible that he/she has any number of zoonotic infections.
Workers have many ways to protect themselves, such as gloves, HEPA filter masks, and vaccinations. While protective equipment is essential, many wildlife control operators are not aware of the threat they pose to their families.
The Risk to Families
Consider the following scenario. The WCO has had a long day at work, handling lots of animals and entering several attics or crawl spaces. He comes home. As he comes through the door, his 5-year-old daughter rushes to him and wraps her arms around his legs. Did the daughter inhale any infectious dust from the pants?
A Simple Strategy to Reduce Risk
1. Be aware of the risks. Learning about zoonosis is the first step to protecting yourself against them.
2. Change clothes and shower before you sit on the sofa or greet family. You should clearly distinguish between work clothes and non-work clothes. Just as pest control operators sustain chemical spray on their clothes requiring removal, so too WCOs get infectious agents on their clothes. Place clothes in laundry and get into the shower. Soap and water can do a lot to protect you and your family from infectious diseases. It’s not perfect but it helps.
3. Showers allow you to look at your skin for ectoparasites like ticks. Ticks and other ectoparasites also can carry infectious agents. So the sooner they are removed, the more likely you will avoid disease transmission.
Remove work clothes and shower before you settle in at home.
About the Author
Stephen M. Vantassel is a certified wildlife control operator who helps individuals, businesses, and agencies resolve wildlife damage issues through training, writing, expert witness, and research. His latest book is the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd edition. He can be contacted at stephenvantassel at Hotmail dot com.
All postings are the property of Stephen M. Vantassel. Text may be reprinted in non-profit publications provided that the author and website URL is included.