Insect Borne Diseases in Colorado
~ By Kirsten Antony R.N. ~
A few months ago at a routine visit to the veterinarian, I became aware that it is now recommended for dogs living in Colorado to take preventative heartworm medicine year round. With global temperatures rising, even here in Colorado we need to be cautious to the fact that warmer temperatures mean more mosquitos and not just in the summer months. Colorado veterinarians are seeing more and more cases of heartworm in dogs than ever before which is spread by mosquitos. It is a great idea to protect your animals from insects that can cause infection from viruses, bacteria and parasites, but we should also be aware of prevention and detection for ourselves of insect borne diseases.
West Nile Virus is spread via mosquitos and it is present here in Colorado. According to the CDC, 70-80% of people infected with the virus show no symptoms. However, those above age 60 and those with compromised immune systems are at greater risk of severe symptoms or illness. Symptoms of West Nile infection may include headache, stiff neck, high fever and seizures. To protect yourself from West Nile it is recommended to use an insect repellent when outdoors. DEET is effective, but also controversial. Use with caution and please read all the information on the label. I like to use natural insect repellents made with essential oils. Cinnamon, Eucalyptus, Citronella and Geranium are all essential oils that can be used to repel mosquitos. There are many products on the market right now that are natural insect repellents.
I am fortunate to be one of those folks that mosquitos don’t seem to be drawn to. If I was to become a feeding frenzy to our flying foes, I may decide to apply DEET on occasion in lieu of natural remedies. Why is it that some people are more delicious to mosquitos than others? Your particular blood type and genetics can make you more likely to be bitten than others. Also, it is known that mosquitos are also attracted to increased body temperature. Exercising outdoors can attract mosquitos by increasing your body temperature and releasing lactic acid. The color clothes we wear outside is something we can control to avoid mosquito bites. Studies have found that mosquitos are drawn more to the colors of red, blue and black, so it would be a good idea to don a light colored outfit next time you go for a walk in the woods.
Ticks are another insect to be aware of as we venture outside. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Colorado Tick Fever and Lyme Disease are diseases spread by ticks that can be contracted here in Colorado. Symptoms may include high fever, severe headaches, muscle aches, nausea and vomiting and a rash. If you suspect you may have been bitten by a tick and have above symptoms it is advised to see a physician right away. To help prevent tick bites, it is a good idea to wear clothing that covers all exposed areas of the skin when outside. Also, insect repellent may be helpful as well as avoiding areas of tall grasses and weeds.
We are so blessed to live in the state of Colorado where so many of us can enjoy the great outdoors, primarily bug free compared to other areas of our beautiful country. Nature is a wonderful healing place to spend time. Please enjoy the tail end of Summer 2017 and well wishes that nothing bugs you.
Kirsten Antony is a Registered Nurse and Certified Reflexologist. Kirsten is a holistic health care practitioner and specializes in foot and nail care. She provides care in the Denver area at a variety of facilities as well as house calls. For more information please visit www.kirstenantony.com or call 303-668-8992.