The morbidity and mortality from communicable diseases is increasing in the
United States. Although much of this is secondary to the HIV epidemic,
traditional threats such as tuberculosis are also increasing. HIV has also
overshadowed new epidemic diseases, such as Lyme disease. Paradoxically,
the legal risks of communicable diseases are increasing because the diseases
themselves are still relatively rare. If an epidemic afflicts most of the
population, it is difficult to link an individual case to a workplace exposure.
However, if outbreaks of the disease are infrequent, it will be obvious when an
employee’s exposure occurred at work.