Animal and Insect related Issues (Zoonoses)
The Zoonosis Control Program provides assistance to individuals, animal control agencies, and veterinarians with regard to these diseases.
You may also be interested in learning more about these important topics:
• Roundworms and Pets (Iowa Department of Public Health)
• Common Questions about Zoonoses (Iowa Department of Public Health)
• A Guide To Healthy Animal Experiences with Young Children (Iowa Department of Public Health)
• Pests.org (a website dedicated to helping protect your family and home from pests)
- West Nile Virus
- Tick Borne Disease
- Head Lice (pediculosis)
- Bed Bugs
In Colorado, Western Equine Encephalitis (“Sleeping Sickness”), St. Louis Encephalitis, and West Nile Virus are all important mosquito borne diseases. They are all threats to human health. The Environmental Health Division monitors mosquito populations for the prevalence of these diseases.
|What is West Nile Virus Infection?
The West Nile Virus is spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes. It can infect many animals and humans. In people, West Nile Virus usually causes a mild illness, but it can also cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord).
This virus is named after the West Nile region of Uganda where the virus was first isolated in 1937. West Nile virus first appeared in 1999 in New York City. It first appeared in Delta County in 2003 and is now widely circulating in our area.
The best way to protect yourself from West Nile Virus and other mosquito borne diseases is to prevent mosquito bites. Wear long-sleeved light colored clothing, use insect repellent with DEET, avoid outdoor activity at dusk and dawn, and remove standing water from your home or yard. Vaccines are available for horses and should be discussed with your veterinarian.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Arboviral Encephalitides
West Nile Virus Colorado Health Education Line for the Public (CO-HELP): 1-877-462-2911
Delta County Environmental Health Hot Line: 970-874-2172
Believe it or not, the infamous Bubonic Plague, or “Black Death”, of the Middle Ages is still in your back yard! Fortunately, sanitation and living conditions have improved so much that the plague is now not quite as threatening. However, there are still cases of plague, caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, in humans and animals in Western Colorado today.
You should avoid contact with all wild rodents, especially sick or dead rodents. In Western Colorado, prairie dogs are notorious for carrying plague. Dogs and cats should be confined so they cannot prey on rodents and then bring the disease home with them. Flea prevention should be kept current on all pets, following the direction of your veterinarian. Controlling the fleas on pets will prevent the transfer of fleas to humans.
Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) has been recognized as a disease only recently in North America. So far, it's also fairly uncommon and the chances of becoming infected are low. However, HPS is potentially deadly and immediate intensive care is essential once symptoms appear.
Hantaviruses that cause HPS are carried by wild rodents, especially the deer mouse, but do not infect pets or livestock. You can become infected by inhalation of their droppings, urine, or saliva. You can also be infected by direct contact (bites, wounds, or contact through the mouth and eyes). You cannot catch HPS from another person. The first signs of sickness (especially fever and muscle aches) appear 1 to 5 weeks following exposure, followed by shortness of breath and coughing. Once the respiratory phase begins, the disease progresses rapidly, necessitating hospitalization and often ventilation within 24 hours. HPS can also cause severe damage to the lungs and kidneys.
Reporting and Testing: All dog bites are required to be reported to the Health Department in order for the dog to be quarantined and observed. Delta County Health Department does not test skunks, bats, or other wild animals. If a domestic animal is bitten by a wild animal, you should contact the Environmental Health program by calling (970) 874-2165 to fill out a bite report.
Colorado Rabies Statute
- Bites from infected ticks or deer flies
- Ingesting contaminated meat or water
- Touching sick animals
- Inhaling the bacteria
Symptoms in humans depend on the route of infection. If infected through the skin, a non-healing wound and swollen lymph nodes may appear. If ingested, people may experience generalized gastrointestinal illness. If inhaled, pneumonia-like symptoms may appear.
If detected early, tularemia can be treated with antibiotics. To keep yourself safe, remember to avoid contact with all wild animals, wear insect repellant, and check yourself for ticks.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Tularemia
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment: Tularemia
Center for Food Security and Public Health: Tularemia
Colorado Tick Fever is a non-fatal viral disease that is transmitted by the Rocky Mountain Wood Tick. You may experience a fever, headache, body aches, nausea, and abdominal pain. These symptoms may come and go for several weeks, followed by recovery. After infection, you are immune to Colorado Tick Fever.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) is a serious disease that can be fatal. Luckily, if diagnosed early, it is treatable. RMSF is also transmitted by the bite of a Rocky Mountain Wood Tick, and can cause illness is humans and dogs. Generally, it causes flu-like symptoms after a 3-14 day incubation period. In most human cases, a rash follows.
Unlike Colorado Tick Fever and RMSF, Relapsing Fever is caused by the bite of an infected soft tick. Soft ticks are generally associated with wild rodents. Relapsing Fever is often mistaken for Lyme disease, as symptoms are similar. High fevers and joint pain are experienced for several days, then recede, followed by relapsing cycles of these symptoms. Relapsing Fever can usually be treated with antibiotics.
Tips to Avoid Ticks
- Stay on trails and avoid tall grass or leaf litter
- Wear tall socks, long pants, and long sleeves
- Use insect repellents with at least 20% DEET
- Conduct full body tick checks
- Check clothing, gear, and pets for ticks
Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Tick Borne Diseases
Colorado Department of Public Health: Tick Borne Diseases
Center for Food Security and Public Health: Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Adults, nymphs, and eggs are very small and can be difficult to find. A magnifying glass is often helpful when examining the scalp. Adults are very small white to tan, fast moving insects. The viable eggs, also called nits, can be found very close to the scalp and are only visible as grey-white specks.
Because school age children generally have close contact with each other, most schools have policies to prevent the spread of head lice. After an infestation is discovered, children are often excluded from schools until they have been treated. The school nurse will often assist in inspection.
Both prescription and over the counter medications are available to treat head lice. Vacuuming, disinfecting combs and brushes, and washing clothing and bedding in hot water will help control the spread of head lice in your home.
Head Lice Facts
- Head lice do not spread disease.
- You cannot get head lice from pets and animals.
- Head lice cannot jump or fly; they can only be spread by close contact with people, clothing, or personal items such as brushes and caps.
- Hatched eggs or dead lice can be confused with dandruff, styling product debris, or dirt.
- Head lice do not necessarily reflect hygiene. They spread easily, and some even prefer clean hair.
- People with long and short hair can have head lice.
- Head lice can be found on the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, and beard, but they are different from the
- Lice found on other parts of the body.
Signs of Bed Bugs on People
- Red bites
- Bites on the face, neck, arms, and hands
- Bites on body after sleeping
Signs of Bed Bugs in the Environment
- Bed bug exoskeletons after molting
- Bed bugs in mattress folds or sheets
- Rusty colored blood spots on mattresses, sheets, furniture, or clothing from bed bug fecal material
- Sweet musty odor
- Bed bugs do not transmit disease
- Bed bugs do not always reflect hygiene. They have been found in five star hotels and resorts, regardless of cleanliness.
- Bed bugs are great hitchhikers! They can grab a ride on clothes, backpacks, and suitcases.
- Bed bugs usually live within 8 feet of where people sleep – including bedrooms, airplanes, trains, motels, dorm rooms, and cruise ships!
- Bed bugs can be seen without a microscope.
Tips to Prevent Bed Bugs from Invading your Home
- Be cautious when acquiring used furniture.
- Do not pick up disregarded beds, couches, or other furniture from the curb.
- Carefully examine used furniture and clothing, and launder before bringing into your home.
- Perform frequent inspections in your home, apartment, or motel room.
- Never place your suitcase on a motel bed or floor.
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment: Bed Bugs
Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Bed Bugs
CDC Environmental Health: Bed Bugs
Bed Bug Fact Sheet
Bed Bugs: What Schools Need to Know
Michigan’s Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite