Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Better Safe Than Sorry ; Taking Precautions against Animal-Borne Diseases Important

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Better Safe Than Sorry ; Taking Precautions against Animal-Borne Diseases Important

Article excerpt

The great outdoors is a wonderful place. Ideally, it's filled with pleasant experiences and happy memories whether you're hunting, fishing, hiking, camping or just relaxing on the back porch.

However, on occasion, there are things "out there" that can cause problems. While some may be just minor irritations, others may be more severe or potentially life threatening.

Animal-borne diseases are a safety concern no matter where you live. Some may think only those who live in the country face risks and if you stay close to home you really don't have much to fear, although fear is a strong word. Awareness may be a better choice, and those venturing outdoors for any reason should be aware of potential problems and pre-plan if possible.

West Nile Virus

In the news in recent years is West Nile Virus. This disease is carried by mosquitoes and passed to humans through a mosquito bite. Not all species of mosquitoes carry the disease, nor do most mosquitoes have it. Some cities may have a monitoring program to check for the prevalence of the disease in mosquito populations.

Symptoms of WNV can occur from just a couple days to two weeks after an infected bite. However, most people who are infected with mosquito-borne viruses do not become ill or have any symptoms.

Mosquito-proof your yard by eliminating standing water in buckets, kids' toys, dog dishes, etc. Mosquitoes lay up to 250 eggs at a time in water and they hatch in just a few days. Wear appropriate clothing and use insect repellent, even in your own backyard. Try to avoid early morning or dusk activities, if possible, as these are when mosquitoes are most active.


Rabies is likely one of the most noted animal-borne diseases familiar to people. Rabies is an infectious viral disease that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals. Humans are infected, oftentimes through a bite, from rabid animals such as raccoons, skunks, foxes, coyotes or bats. Bats and skunks are likely the two most common carriers of rabies.

Be sure to keep your cats' and dogs' rabies vaccination up to date and don't allow them to roam free. Do not handle wild animals, and if you find a dead one use a shovel to pick it up, place it in a trash bag and dispose of it in an outdoor trash container.

Some people mistakenly assume a wild animal like a skunk or raccoon seen during the day is likely rabid. That's not true, but if an animal is acting lethargic, strange or has no fear of humans that's reason to suspect something isn't quite right. Regardless, all wildlife should be left alone and never handled.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme Disease

These diseases are transmitted to humans from the bite of a tick. …

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