Vectors are living organisms that can transmit infectious diseases between humans or from animals to humans. Many of these are bloodsucking insects that ingest disease-producing microorganisms after biting and sucking blood from an infected host (human or animal) and later inject it into a new host during their next blood meal.
The best-known of the disease vectors are mosquitoes. Other familiar disease vectors include ticks, flies, sandflies, fleas, triatomine bugs and some freshwater aquatic snails.
Vector-borne diseases are human illnesses caused by parasites, viruses and bacteria that are transmitted by mosquitoes, ticks and other disease vectors.
Some of the more commonly known vectors and associated vector-borne diseases are:
Mosquitos: malaria, West Nile fever, Yellow fever, Zika virus;
Ticks: Lyme disease, Rickettsial diseases (Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Q fever), tularemia
Fleas: plague, rickettsiosis
Who is at risk of exposure to vector-borne diseases?
Employees working in outdoor settings such as, but not limited to, agricultural operations, arboriculture and logging operations, and construction work are most at risk of becoming infected with a vector-borne disease.
What can I do to protect myself and others?
Employees who work outside can protect themselves against mosquito and tick bites, in particular, by following a few simple precautions. Use EPA-registered insect repellents containing one of the following ingredients: DEET; picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the US); IR3535; oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE); para-menthane-diol (PMD); and 2-undecanone.
Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when working outside. Treat items, such as boots, pants, socks, and tents, with insect repellant or buy insect repellant-treated clothing and gear.
What resources are available to assist employers?
Training and Outreach Services
The personal protective equipment and hazard communication presentations are available to assist employers in training their staff. Each of these presentations should be modified to address site-specific conditions and hazards.
In addition, the education, training and technical assistance bureau provides free online safety and health training and outreach services (i.e., speaker's bureau requests, safety booths) upon request.
Lastly, the NCDOL Library offers free safety and health videos (including streaming video services) and related research assistance on consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, NFPA, NEC).
Safety and Health Programs
A-Z Safety and Health Topics
The consultative services bureau provides free and confidential onsite consultation regarding worksite safety and health hazards.
Which standards apply?
OSH has adopted the following standards which are applicable to employee exposure to vector-borne diseases in North Carolina. Note: Please also check the standards information and activity webpage to see if there has been any recent or upcoming regulatory activity on this topic.
29 CFR 1910.132 – general requirements
29 CFR 1910.133 – eye and face protection
29 CFR 1910.138 – hand protection
29 CFR 1910.141 – sanitation
29 CFR 1910.1200 – hazard communication
29 CFR 1926.28 – personal protective equipment
29 CFR 1926.95 – criteria for personal protective equipment
Maritime, Shipyard Employment
- 29 CFR 1915.152 – general requirements
29 CFR 1915.153 – eye and face protection
- 29 CFR 1915.157 – hand and body protection
- 29 CFR 1915.1200 – hazard communication
Maritime, Marine Terminals
29 CFR 1917.1(a)(2)(vi) – scope and applicability, hazard communication
29 CFR 1917.91 – eye and face protection
- 29 CFR 1928.110 – field sanitation
General Duty Clause
- NCGS 95-129(1) - General Duty Clause
Other Applicable Standards
The Which OSHA Standards Apply webpage can also help identify other standards that may be applicable to your worksite.
Where can I learn more?
Industry Guide 48 - OSHA Construction Industry Standards Requiring Programs, Inspections, Procedures, Records and/or Training provides requirements for related standards in construction.
Industry Guide 49 - OSHA General Industry Standards Requiring Programs, Inspections, Procedures, Records and/or Training provides requirements for related standards in general industry.
Industry Guide 50 - OSHA Agriculture Standards Requiring Programs, Inspections, Procedures, Records and/or Training highlights the requirements of standards related to agriculture.
Industry Guide 53 – OSHA Shipyard Employment Standards Requiring Programs, Inspections, Procedures, Records and/or Training provides requirements for related standards in shipyard employment.
Industry Guide 54 – OSHA Marine Terminal Standards Requiring Programs, Inspections, Procedures, Records and/or Training provides requirements for related standard at marine terminals.
If you would like to receive interpretive guidance on this or any other OSH standard or topic, you can submit your questions using the Ask OSH web form, by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 919-707-7876.