Vector-borne illnesses are those that are transmitted to humans by vectors such as mosquitoes and ticks. With the heavy rains throughout the spring, mosquitoes and ticks are out in mass as we head into summer. With more mosquitoes and ticks, the chances of being infected with a vector-borne illness increases tremendously for both humans and animals.
While there are many vector borne illnesses, not all are prevalent locally. West Nile Virus, Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever are the most prevalent in Cowley County. It takes only one bite from a mosquito or tick to contract these illnesses.
Symptoms of those can include fever, confusion, rash, muscle aches, nausea, headaches and facial paralysis. Anyone experiencing any of these symptoms after a bite should contact a physician.
The good news is that there are steps to take to decrease the chances of infection. Using insect repellent containing DEET, checking clothing and pets for ticks, avoiding areas of brush or high grass and walking in the center of trails can all help to prevent a tick or mosquito bite. Emptying flower pots, buckets and other containers where water might stand will also decrease breeding areas for mosquitoes.
Thomas Langer is the director of the City-Cowley County Health Department.