Do not overlook vector-borne diseases this summer

Madison Thompson

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or its editorial board.

As temperatures rise, the beautiful summer weather means we can finally shed our layers and spend more pleasant time outdoors. Hiking and exploring new areas are great ways to stay active, but be mindful of the critters sharing these habitats that you may need to protect yourself from and any diseases they may carry.

Ad

Diseases like malaria and rabies are passed to humans via a vector, like a bite from a mosquito or dog. Colorado is such a hub for vector-borne diseases (VBDs) that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Center for Vector Borne Pathogens is located in Fort Collins, Co.

It’s easy to disregard these as minimal, but VBDs are can be extremely detrimental, even deadly, to one’s health and they a prevalent in Colorado. If you plan to be active this summer its important you protect yourself from these diseases. 

In fact, VBDs have tripled between 2004 and 2016 due to climate change, according to a 2018 report by the CDC.

VBDs have tripled between 2004 to 2016 due to climate change, according to a 2018 report by the CDC.

In Colorado, some of the most common VBDs are contracted from tick bites. Unlike most states, the most common tick is the Rocky Mountain Wood Tick, which is most likely to give you Colorado tick fever.

Colorado tick fever feels a lot like the flu– only lasting one to three days with aches, fevers, chills and fatigue, so you might not even know you have it. In a more serious case, it is possible to contract Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tick paralysis and tularemia.

The Rocky Mountain wood tick most commonly carries tick paralysis which is certainly the most serious of cases as a person becomes increasingly paralyzed over time until the tick is removed. Lyme disease is also a major VBD associated with tick bites.

Black legged ticks typically carry Lyme disease which you will know if you have contracted because of the distinctive ring-shaped rash around the bite.However, these are less common in Colorado and the CDC has never confirmed a case of Lyme disease that originated in the state.

These VBDs pose serious health risks, but there are easy steps you can take to keep yourself safe. 

Ways to protect yourself against VBDs:

  • Use mesh to cover all points of entry into the house, and keep windows and doors closed in evenings.
  • Wear bug repellent on skin or clip-on on clothes, reapply often.
  • Do not let water collect in objects or containers; empty all things that hold water and replace water in vases every 2 days  
  • where light colored long-pants when hiking outdoors, this make ticks easily detectable

If you are planning to visit an area with lots of brush and grass, simply covering up exposed skin with light colored long sleeves and pants tucked into closed toed shoes are a few of the easiest steps you can take. If you’re in a situation where you have to show some skin, you can opt for a bug repellent.

Remember that temperature, humidity and time of day affect the likelihood of contracting VBDs so know when you need to take extra precautions.

Ad

Be sure to check yourself and your pets for ticks upon returning from your summer adventures, and remember; bug spray is your best friend. 

Madison Thompson can be reached at letters@collegian.com or at @heyymadison