Lincoln County Health Department
A "Vector" is an animal or insect that transmits a disease-producing organism from one host to another. The Health Department works to reduce exposures to vectors and investigate potential exposures to reduce the potential of illness. Through evaluation of exposures and an understanding of the vector organism and illness, corrective action and appropriate control measure can be developed.
Hantavirus with rodent reservoirs were identified in Asia as causes of hemorrhagic fevers. A new hantavirus was recognized in a 1993 outbreak of severe respiratory illnesses in southwestern United Sates. Deer Mice (pictured above) the reservoir, are found in primarily rural areas throughout western states. Since 1986, Lincoln County has experience two cases of hantavirus, one fatal. Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) has been recognized as a disease only recently in the United States. Although the risk of acquiring the illness are low, HPS is potentially deadly and require immediate intensive care once a diagnosis has been made.
Although the incidence of rabies in humans is extremely low, the invariable outcome of this viral disease is fatal if not treated. Throughout the united states, many animals serve as a reservoir for rabies. In Washington State, bats appear to be the reservoir with approximately 8.4% of the 5,172 bats tested by the Washington State Public Health Laboratory testing positive. The incidence rate in animals is very low, especially in domestic animals due to available vaccinations.
Even with the low incidence rate, it is important to evaluate any animal bite to assure that proper treatment is provided. Washington State Law has established mandatory reporting to the local health department of any animal bite that occurs. We work with local doctors, veterinarians, and the Public Health Laboratory to assure no risk of rabies transmission. In the even that some risk occurs, testing of the animal of vaccination of the bitten individual will be evaluate. Report any animal bite as soon as possible to (509)725-2501.
TICK AND TICK BORNE ILLNESSES
Ticks are blood feeding parasites. Through the feeding process of burrowing their mouth parts into unsuspecting hosts, they introduce disease causing organism. While the incidence rate of many of these illnesses are low in Lincoln County, it is still important to take precautions.
Mosquitoes have been known carriers of disease for many years. However, in our area, we have thought of them as pest more than disease carriers. Since it's emergence in the United States in 1999, the West Nile Virus has expanded to at least 27 states and in expected to reach the west coast within the next two years. Bringing mosquito control and monitoring to the for front.
Environmental Health Specialists: Kim Heinz, RS and Ed Dzedzy, RSS