Potential Illnesses

West Nile Virus (WNV)

WNV is a potentially serious illness that can be passed from infected mosquitoes. WNV is present in the Joplin area. Cases typically peak late in the summer into the early fall. Most people infected with WNV show no symptoms or very mild symptoms. Residents with underlying health conditions or residents over the age of 50 are at most risk to develop serious illness. The CDC reports that less than 1% of the reported cases fall in the serious illness category. To learn how you can prevent WNV view the following resources:

Ticks & Tick Born Illness

Gardening, camping, hiking, or just playing outdoors, these are all great spring and summertime activities, but don't forget about the ticks that may be in the same environment. Fortunately there are several tactics you can use to prevent tick bites and reduce your risk of tick-borne disease. Some of the more common diseases that you can get from a tick bite include:
  • Babesiosis
  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Lyme disease
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever
  • Southern tick-associated rash illness
  • Tick-borne relapsing fever
  • Tularemia

Protection from Tick Bites

Tick-borne diseases can occur worldwide. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself and your family.
  • Know where to expect ticks. Ticks live in moist and humid environments, particularly in or near wooded or grassy areas. You may come into contact with ticks during outdoor activities around your home or when walking through vegetation such as leaf litter or shrubs. Always walk in the center of trails, in order to avoid ticks.
  • Use a repellent with DEET (on skin or clothing) or permethrin (on clothing) and wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks. Products containing permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing, and camping gear which can remain protective through several washings. Repellents containing 20% or more DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) can be applied to the skin and they can protect up to several hours. Always follow product instructions. Parents should apply this product to their children, avoiding the hands, eyes, and mouth.
  • Wear light-colored clothing, which allows you to see ticks crawling on your clothing.
  • Tuck your pant legs into your socks so that ticks cannot crawl up inside of your pant legs. Some ticks can crawl down into shoes and are small enough to crawl through most socks. When traveling in areas with lone star ticks (which are associated with Southern tick-associated rash illness, ehrlichiosis, and possibly Rocky Mountain spotted fever) you should examine your feet and ankles to ensure that ticks are not attached.

Perform Daily Tick Checks

Check your body for ticks after being outdoors, even in your own yard. Conduct a body check upon return from potentially tick-infested areas by searching your entire body for ticks. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body and remove any tick you find. Check these parts of your body and your child's body for ticks:
  • Around the waist
  • Back of the knees
  • Between the legs
  • In and around ears
  • In and around hair
  • Inside belly button
  • Under the arms

Check Children

Check your children for ticks, especially in the hair, when returning from potentially tick-infested areas. See the list above for the places on your child's body to check for ticks. Remove any tick you find on your child's body.

Check Clothing & Pets

Ticks may be carried into the house on clothing and pets. Both should be examined carefully and any ticks that are found should be removed. Placing clothes into a dryer on high heat effectively kills ticks.

What to Do If You Are Bitten by a Tick

Remove an attached tick as soon as you notice it. Watch for signs of illness such as rash or fever and see a health care provider if these develop. For fully detailed information about tick removal, see the Rocky Mountain spotted fever website.

Your risk of acquiring a tick-borne illness depends on many factors, including where you live, what type of tick bit you, and how long the tick was attached. If you become ill after a tick bite, see a health care provider.

Reduce Ticks in Your Yard

  • Modify your landscape to create tick safe zones. To do this, keep play areas and playground equipment away from shrubs, bushes, and other vegetation. Also, regularly remove leaf litter and clear tall grasses and brush around homes and place wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to keep ticks away from recreational areas.
  • Use a chemical control agent. Effective tick control chemicals are available for use by the homeowner or they can be applied by a professional pest control expert and even limited applications can greatly reduce the number of ticks. A single springtime application of acaricide can reduce the population of ticks that cause Lyme disease by 68–100%.
  • Discourage deer by removing plants that attract them. Constructing physical barriers may help discourage deer from entering your yard and bringing ticks with them.