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Workers’ compensation may cover tuberculosis

Workers’ compensation law in Pennsylvania exists not only to protect employees in the event of a workplace injury, but also to cover the medical expenses and lost wages for those who are suffering from an occupational illness. A work-related illness is commonly caused by exposure to toxic substances or is an emotional condition related to work, such as stress disorders.

Are contagious diseases covered under workers’ compensation law? According to the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration, some types of infectious disease claims are accepted. These do not typically include common illnesses that people can contract anywhere, such as the common cold or the flu. More serious contagious illnesses, however, such as tuberculosis, may be considered for workers’ compensation if the illness was work-related.

How might tuberculosis be an illness someone contracts on the job? Information from the Mayo Clinic states that many people who work in the health care industry are regularly exposed to serious illnesses like tuberculosis. These employees could include nurses, doctors, nursing assistants and residential care staff.

Usually, people with weakened immune systems are the most at risk of developing tuberculosis. It is possible for a health care worker to become infected if he or she is suffering from another condition that compromises the immune system, such as diabetes, cancer or HIV. Certain medications, as well as age or malnutrition, may also diminish immunity.

Many people may not consider tuberculosis as a health risk they should be worried about, due to immunizations and the low rate of people infected with this disease in the United States. However, this life-threatening illness is still present and may present a great risk to employees who are exposed to it on the job.

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