Mosquito-Borne Diseases

This 2006 photograph depicted a female Aedes aegypti mosquito while she was in the process of acquiring a blood meal from her human host, who in this instance, was actually the biomedical photographer, James Gathany

Protecting workers from mosquito bites can prevent diseases.

Mosquito-borne diseases are those spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Diseases that are spread to people by mosquitoes include Zika virus, West Nile virus, Chikungunya virus, dengue, and malaria.

Employers should protect workers and workers should protect themselves from diseases spread by mosquitoes. Although most people do not become sick after a bite from an infected mosquito, some people have a mild, short-term illness or (rarely) severe or long-term illness. Severe cases of mosquito-borne diseases can cause death.

Workers at Risk

Workers are at risk when they are working where mosquitoes are biting. Different species of mosquitoes are found in varying geographic locations, are most active at different times, and spread different diseases. The risk to workers varies with where they are working in the United States or elsewhere, type of habitat at the work site, season, and time of day.

Workers at risk include:

  • Outdoor workers
  • Business travelers who may travel to areas with mosquito-borne diseases
  • Laboratory workers who may work with potentially infected samples, cultures, or arthropods
  • Healthcare workers who may handle patients who are, or might be infected with certain mosquito-borne diseases. Transmission may occur through a break in their skin or via a sharp penetration injury.

Employer Recommendations

  • Some mosquitoes breed in standing water. Decrease mosquito populations at worksites by:
    • removing, turning over, covering, or storing equipment
    • removing debris from ditches
    • filling in ruts and other areas that collect standing water
    • removing tires, buckets, bottles, and barrels that collect water
    • placing drain holes in containers that collect water and cannot be discarded
  • Keep mosquitoes out of indoor worksites by ensuring that doors and windows have screens and are kept closed when possible.
  • Provide training about:
    • the risk of mosquito bites and how to protect themselves
    • symptoms of diseases spread by mosquitoes
    • the safe use of insect repellents
  • Provide workers with, and encourage them to wear, clothing that covers theirs hands, arms, legs, and other exposed skin. Consider providing hats with mosquito netting to protect the face and neck.
  • Provide insect repellents with an EPA-registered active ingredient, such as: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon, eucalyptus or para-methane-diol, or 2-undecanone and encourage their use.

Worker Recommendations

  • Use insect repellents with an EPA-registered active ingredient, such as: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol, 2-undecanone.
    • Permethrin can be applied to clothing and gear.
    • Follow the label instructions.
    • If also using sunscreen, apply it before applying insect repellent.
  • Wear clothing that covers hands, arms, legs, and other exposed skin. Wear hats with mosquito netting to protect the face and neck.
  • Get rid of sources of standing water (for example, tires, buckets, barrels) to reduce places where mosquitoes lay eggs
  • Workers who develop symptoms of a mosquito-borne disease should report this promptly to their supervisor and get medical attention.

Page last reviewed: March 21, 2016