Vector-borne diseases on the rise

By Steve Swatzel - Special to Times-Sentinel

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Vectors are organisms that transmit pathogens and parasites from one infected person (or animal) to another, causing serious diseases in humans. According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC), the number of diseases in the United States (US) that were transmitted to humans by mosquitoes, ticks and fleas tripled between the years, 2004-2016. During this same time the US welcomed two new mosquito-borne diseases including the Zika virus and Chikungunya, along with seven new tick borne diseases. According to the Ohio Department of Health, the number of reported Lyme disease cases has increased substantially. It is now common to see over 100 confirmed cases each year. With this rising threat of diseases what can be done to protect from or prevent mosquito and tick-borne diseases

The Meigs County Health Department is currently monitoring areas in the county for mosquito-borne diseases and nuisances through the trapping and testing of mosquitoes, educating the public on vector-borne diseases with public service announcements on the radio and providing patrons with mosquito safety kits that have information and products that help prevent mosquito bites.

The threat of a severe mosquito season is upon us, and eliminating sources of standing water on your property is one of the most effective ways to combat mosquitoes. The Meigs County Health Department is offering free scrap tire disposal which began June 24 at the Meigs County Health Department. Any Meigs County resident can bring up to 10 tires per load to the health department, located at 112 East Memorial Drive in Pomeroy, Monday through Friday between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Contact the health department as the availability is limited.

Each person can do something to protect and prevent vector-borne diseases. Here are just a few things:

· Use an Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellent. Most common is DEET.

· Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.

· Treat items, such as boots, pants, socks, and tents, with permethrin or buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear.

· Take steps to control ticks and fleas on pets.

· Find and remove ticks daily from family and pets.

· Take steps to control mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas inside and outside your home.

· Properly dispose any all old tires or at least prevent water from collecting inside them.

· Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots, or similar water-holding containers. No matter how small.

· Make sure roof gutters drain properly. Clean gutters in the spring and fall.

· Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs. If not in use, keep empty and covered. There are chemicals called “mosquito dunks” that prevent mosquitoes in unused pools. They can be purchased at most hardware stores.

· Change the water in bird baths at least once a week.

· Turn over plastic wading pools, and wheelbarrows, etc. when not in use.

· Clean ditches of obstructions so they drain properly.

· Check trees for cavities that hold water and fill them with soil, gravel, or sand.

· Remind or help neighbors to eliminate breeding sites on their properties.

· Fix outdoor leaking faucets.

For more information regarding vector-borne disease preventative measures contact the Meigs County Health Department at 740-992-6626.

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By Steve Swatzel

Special to Times-Sentinel

Steve Swatzel, RS, is the Director of Environmental Health for the Meigs County Health Department.

Steve Swatzel, RS, is the Director of Environmental Health for the Meigs County Health Department.