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World Health Day! Stay healthy with your pet!

April 7, 2014
(Matthew C. Wright photo)

(Matthew C. Wright photo)

As better weather approaches, we go out more. Did you know a little bug can change your fun plans? So, be prepared when you go out enjoy the day or your vacation!

Today is World Health Day — a campaign run by the World Health Organization to spread awareness of important health topics that are relevant around the world. This year’s world health issue is vector-born diseases. What’s a vector, you say? As defined on dictionary.com, a vector is “an insect or other organism that transmit a pathogenic fungus, virus, bacterium, etc”. In other words, a vector is a carrier for disease.

We all know that mosquitoes may cause West Nile Virus or Malaria, but did you know that they can also cause Dengue fever? Dengue fever is transmitted through a virus from a mosquito bite and can cause symptoms of fever, headache, pain behind the eyes, and muscle or bone pain. Like Dengue fever, West Nile Virus is caused by a virus. Malaria is caused by a parasite. In this example the mosquito is the vector and it transmits viruses or parasites through interaction with a human. Many vector-born diseases work this way.

Flies, ticks, bugs, and fresh water snails may also spread diseases. The good news is most of these diseases are preventable! Simple measures such as sleeping with netting around your bed, covering all exposed skin with clothing, and using insect repellant can protect you. There are also many products that can help keep your pets protected from tick-born and flea diseases. Talk to your vet about them.

According to the World Health Organization, about half of the world’s population is at risk for any of these vector-born diseases and more than one million people die annually from them. Increasing awareness is one way to reduce this number. The more you know, the better protected you are!

Click here to read a very interesting article on vector-born diseases that can affect pets and people.

– By Taylor Crampton

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