The recent news of Ebola in the United States has given me pause to think whether the nurses in Texas who contracted the Ebola virus are covered under the workers’ compensation system.
Here in Nebraska, the nurses with Ebola would almost certainly be covered. In Nebraska, occupational diseases are covered as long as the illness or injury was peculiar to the particular trade or employment. Generally, regular diseases that the general public is exposed to are not covered occupational diseases. For example, influenza, colds, or even MRSA (a type of antibiotic-resistant infection) would probably not be covered for a healthcare worker. Those diseases could be contracted in limitless places or circumstances. However unlike those diseases, I would think that Ebola coming from one single, easily identifiable source would be covered and would easily be proven to have come from the job of being that patient’s nurse.
Let’s just hope we never get to a point where Ebola becomes widespread enough that it would not be a covered occupational disease. If it does, we will have more problems than the compensability of a workers’ compensation claim.