Public Health Prevention Tips: Animal-Related Diseases

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Labor Day weekend is approaching fast. In preparation for your last summer bash, Public Health wants to bring awareness of the following animal-related diseases that are present in Idaho.

Zika Virus: This disease is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. Also, it can be spread through blood transfusion, sexual contact and from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby. While most people have no symptoms or only mild symptoms, it may cause birth defects to an unborn child. Anyone traveling to areas where Zika is locally transmitted should follow steps to prevent mosquito bites and to prevent sexual transmission of Zika. This is especially true for pregnant women and their partners. The species of mosquito that carries the virus is NOT found in Idaho. The Florida Department of Health has identified an area in one neighborhood of Miami where Zika is being spread by mosquitoes.

West Nile Virus (WNV): This disease is spread by mosquitoes. Most people infected with the illness will not have symptoms. However, about 1 in 150 people infected will experience severe symptoms, including high fever, severe headache, confusion, and in very rare cases, death. There are no medications to treat or prevent WNV infection. Fortunately, you can reduce your risk of being infected by using insect repellent and wearing protective clothing to prevent mosquito bites.

Hantavirus: People can become infected with Hantavirus through contact with infected rodents or their urine and droppings. If you notice droppings and/or rodents, we recommend contacting Public Health for advice on proper precautions to clean it up or use the following link ( Seal holes and cracks inside and outside of your house. Keep your house clean. Finally, clean up after cooking and eating. Put food into thick plastic, glass, or metal sealed containers.

Plague: A disease that affects people and other mammals. People contract plague after being bitten by a rodent flea that is carrying the plague bacterium or by handling a plague infected animal. To reduce risk, avoid wild rodents and keep your pets away from them. For your protection use insect repellent that contains DEET and flea medication on your pets.

For more information about these diseases, including prevention tips, symptoms and when to seek care, visit the Centers for Disease Control website at For additional questions, contact the 366th Medical Group, Public Health Flight at 208-828-7280.