Be wary of ticks, mosquitoes

Summer's arrival brings folks outdoors, and potentially exposed to ticks, mosquitoes and other rabid wildlife. A few safety measures are shared.



June 15, 2021 - 9:45 AM

Sunshine and warmer weather entices us all to get outdoors more. In turn, this puts us at risk of contracting insect- and animal-borne diseases.

The American Dog Tick, Lonestar Tick and Deer Tick are prevalent in Kansas and can transmit serious and potentially fatal diseases. 

Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and the Bourbon virus are common here. 

The Bourbon Virus was identified in Bourbon County in 2014. 

Think “DDAC” for tick-bite prevention: 

Dress: Wear long sleeves and long pants if out in tall grass or wooded areas. Tuck shirts into pants, and pants into long socks. Wear over-the-ankle shoes. Clothing should be light colored to make ticks more visible. 

DEET: When outdoors, use insect repellant containing 20-30% DEET on exposed skin and clothing. Reapply per label instructions.

Avoid: Regular mowing will decrease tick encounters. Avoid wooded, brushy areas with tall grass and leaf litter. 

Check: Check yourself for ticks every couple of hours while outdoors for an extended time. Check in and around hair, backs of ears, in belly button, under arms, between legs and backs of knees. The best method for removing ticks is to grasp it with tweezers as close to the skin as possible and pull up gently.

If you are feeling sick, have a fever or rash after potentially having a tick bite, call your doctor as soon as possible. 

West Nile Virus (WNV) is the most common mosquito-borne disease in Kansas. Symptoms of severe illness include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. 

People over 60  are at greater risk. According to KDHE, our region is at moderate probability  of being bitten by a mosquito carrying the West Nile Virus.

For WNV prevention, residents should wear mosquito repellent, where long sleeves and long pants as weather permits, use mosquito netting on baby carriages and playpens, and dump standing water twice weekly. Also, avoid outdoors when mosquitoes are most active. 

Rabies is a viral disease that affects the nervous system. Rabies is typically spread by an infected animal biting another animal or a human. Raccoons account for most of the cases of rabies in wild animals, followed by skunks, bats, foxes and coyotes. If you are exposed to the saliva of these animals in the wild, through a bite or close encounter, you should call your doctor to be evaluated for rabies prophylaxis. 

Given on time, this treatment prevents the development of rabies if you are indeed exposed. If left untreated, once signs and symptoms appear, the disease is practically 100% deadly. 

It is important to stay a safe distance from wildlife, but if you do happen to have an encounter with a wild animal, wash the area immediately with soap and water and consult with a healthcare provider as soon as possible. 

Have an enjoyable summer, with lots of time spent outdoors, and remember to take precautions to prevent insect and animal-borne diseases.