With the arrival of warmer weather, local residents will be spending more time
outside and that means exposure to ticks and mosquitoes which can carry harmful
diseases. Two of the most prevalent illnesses, West Nile Virus and Lyme disease
are common throughout Ohio and the Knox County Health Department urges local
residents to take precautions to prevent bites from ticks and mosquitoes and avoid
the diseases they may carry.
Environmental Health Director Nate Overholt, R.S., said so far this year, residents
have brought in 12 ticks for identification, of which nine were black-legged deer
ticks. While identification does not confirm that a tick is infected with a disease,
identification can alert the person to disease symptoms and what to do if the
symptoms occur. Confirmation testing by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) is
no longer available.
The two most common ticks in Ohio are the American dog tick which causes
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and the black-legged deer tick which causes Lyme
disease. The ticks are more easily identified when they are brought in alive and in
an enclosed container, said Overholt.
Most diseases in Ohio that are caused by the bite of infected ticks and mosquitoes
happen between spring and fall when the insects are most active. The most
common diseases caused by mosquito bites in Ohio include West Nile virus and La
Some symptoms of Lyme disease may not appear until weeks, months or years
after a tick bite, affecting joints, nervous system and heart. Diagnosis of Lyme
disease is based on history of tick exposure, signs and symptoms and is aided by
the use of blood tests. Lyme disease responds to appropriate antibiotic therapy.
Early detection and treatment will reduce the risk of arthritis and other
For more information, contact Pam Palm,
740-507- 6533 or ppalm @knoxhealth.com 11660 Upper Gilchrist Rd. Mount Vernon, OH 43050
PH 740-392- 2200 Fax 740-392- 9613
“If you develop symptoms following contact with a tick, you should see your
doctor,” said Overholt. “Prompt removal of an attached tick will significantly
reduce the risk of infection.” If you develop symptoms including fever, flu-like
illness or a rash within a few weeks of a tick bite, you should tell you doctor about
your tick exposure, advised Overholt. He recommends people record the date of
any tick bites in case symptoms occur later.
“Not all ticks are infected with disease, but those that are, must bite and remain
attached for hours in order to transmit diseases,” said Overholt. For the black-
legged tick, its 36-48 hours; for the dog tick, it’s four to six hours.
Humans are not the only ones affected by the bite of a tick or mosquito. Dogs, cats,
and horses can also be affected. Veterinarian Amanda Rogers, DVM, who is also a
member of the board of health, noted that she has seen numerous dogs and cats
with several attached ticks this year. Symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs include
joint pain, fever, and kidney dysfunction; but other dogs remain asymptomatic.
Horses can have variable signs when infected with Lyme disease including
neurologic and orthopedic changes, as well as uveitis (inflammation in the eye).
“Dogs can be protected from Lyme disease through vaccination that is boosted
yearly, and by using year round tick preventions,” said Rogers. “Topical
preventions can also be used on horses, but there is currently no labeled vaccine
available for this species.”
Mosquitoes transmit heartworm disease to dogs and cats. Rogers reported she has
diagnosed two local dogs with heartworm disease already this year. Heartworm
prevention for dogs and cats needs to be administered year-round to be effective
Rogers said there are a variety of products available to prevent heartworm disease
and advised pet owners to discuss with their veterinarian what product is most
appropriate for their pet.
The health department plans to start spraying pesticide for mosquitos in June.
Spraying will take place in the evenings and early mornings and can be delayed or
cancelled due to bad weather conditions including rain, wind or low temperature.
The pesticide kills the mosquito larva.
The Knox County Health Department is one of the few health departments in Ohio
that still sprays for mosquitoes. The pesticide costs around $11,000 for a 55-gallon
drum and is paid for with levy funds. Overholt said he hopes to trap mosquitoes this
summer in selected areas and then have the trapped mosquitoes tested. Referred to
as mosquito surveillance, trapping allows for targeted pesticide application in areas
where infected mosquitoes are identified. Last summer, mosquitos with West Nile
virus were detected in Gambier, Fredericktown and Apple Valley.
The public can also help with mosquito prevention efforts by using insect repellent
when outside and getting rid of standing water around their homes. “When it
comes to standing water, no amount is too small,” said Overholt. “Mosquitoes need
just a small amount of water to lay their eggs which hatch in just a day or two.”
Common mosquito habitats include: tires, buckets, cans, bottles, plastic containers,
pet food containers and water dishes, planters and pots, including saucers and catch
trays. Bird baths should be drained and refilled every 3-4 days.
West Nile Virus (WNV) can cause an infection in humans that can lead to
encephalitis. Most people who become infected with WNV do not have any
symptoms. About one in five people who become infected develop a fever with
other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or
rash. There is no specific treatment for WNV infection, and care is based on
Mosquitoes are likely to be biting between dusk and dawn. “If you must be outdoors
when mosquitoes are active, wear repellent with DEET,” advised Overholt. “Cover
up by wearing shoes, socks, long pants and long-sleeved shirts. Also, wear light
colors. They are less attractive to mosquitoes.”