In 2016 more than 96,000 people in the U.S. were infected with a tick, mosquito or flea borne illness according to the Centers for Disease Control. In 2004 it was under 30,000. The number of cases of these illnesses have tripled in 13 years across the nation.
However, Allen County is not following that trend.
Over the last five years in Allen County reports of diseases like Lyme disease, West Nile virus, Zika virus, Chikungunya and Rocky Mountain spotted fever have been less than five in each of those years.
“When one [case] does pop up for an Allen County resident it’s usually because they were in other parts of the state,” Allen County Department of Health Director of Vector Control David Fiess said.
Fiess said the insects that carry those diseases are just not found often in this part of the state- like the black-legged tick which is usually the one carrying Lyme disease.
“It may be here, but we have not visually seen that tick here,” Fiess said.
For ticks and mosquitos Fiess said it’s all about weather and environment. He said the black-legged tick or deer tick loves dense forests that are more common in other parts of the state and country. The cold winters do a good job at keeping infected mosquitoes away.
“Those types of mosquitoes that transmit Zika virus have not been found in Indiana for a long time,” Feiss said. “And we will likely never see it in Allen County just because of our winters.”
While the low numbers are good for us here, always remember to take caution outside during the warmer months. Insect repellant with deet of 23 percent or higher will protect you from mosquitoes and ticks.
Beware of ticks in forested areas and high grass, and always remember to get rid of standing water on your property as mosquitoes love it for breeding.