Most of us probably don’t even know what histoplasmosis is. But we should. In fact, about 8% of the people who contract the disease – which is caused by fungal spores found in bat and bird droppings – die.
Here are four things to keep in mind in order to reduce the risks that you’ll contract histoplasmosis.
1. Avoid areas with bird or bat droppings. People with weak immune systems are especially at risk from bat- and bird-dropping spores that float in the air.
2. Spray water on the droppings. If you notice bat or bird droppings in the work area, spray mist on the droppings and clean them up. Properly dispose of the waste materials.
3. Wear safety gear. If you’re unable to clean up the droppings, protect yourself by putting on a respirator. Also wear single-use protective clothing and shoe coverings. Be sure to dispose of the protective gear after the job is finished.
4. Recognize the symptoms of the disease. Contact your doctor if you begin to suffer from fever, cough, chills, fatigue, headaches, or chest pain after working in an area with bat or bird droppings.
(From the Sept. 8, 2020, issue of Safety Alert for Supervisors. To download the current issue of the publication right now, please click here.)