“Small Bite, Big Threat”
Protect Yourself Against Vector-Borne Diseases
World Health Day is celebrated annually on April 7 to commemorate the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1948. The organization uses this day as an opportunity to raise awareness on areas of major importance to global health. This year’s theme focuses on vector-borne diseases.
According to WHO, more than half the world’s population is at risk for diseases such as malaria, dengue, leishmaniasis, Lyme disease, schistosomiasis, and yellow fever, carried by vectors such as mosquitoes, flies or ticks. In fact, vector-borne diseases account for more than 17 percent of all infectious diseases.
While malaria is uncommon in Northern California, you’ve no doubt heard reports that some vectors in our area can transmit diseases such as West Nile fever and Lyme disease. As more of us prepare to head outdoors to enjoy warmer weather, we’ve asked infectious disease specialist David Busch, M.D., for a few tips on how to minimize your risk of getting bit.
Use insect repellent containing DEET on exposed skin and use this same product on your pet too. Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.
Remember mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk. You can stay indoors if you want to reduce your risk.
Examine your skin and your pet’s skin for ticks after returning from wooded areas or areas with high grass or brush.
Don’t let mosquitoes and ticks keep you from enjoying the outdoors—just stay informed. Visit California’s West Nile virus website for the latest information on West Nile virus, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website to stay up-to-date on Lyme disease.