New Mexico Department of Health
Our mission is to promote health and wellness, improve health outcomes, and assure safety net services for all people in New Mexico.
David Morgan
575-528-5197 Office
575-649-0754 Mobile

Small Bite, Big Threat

April 7, 2014 - Zoonotic Diseases - Awareness

Department of Health Warns of Animal-Transmitted Diseases this World Health Day

Mosquitoes, flies, ticks and bugs may be a threat to your health – and that of your family - at home and when travelling. This is the message of this year’s World Health Day.

The New Mexico Department of Health joined the World Health Organization (WHO), to promote today, World Health Day 2014 and its focus on vector-borne (animal-transmitted) diseases. The theme for this year’s World Health Day is “Small bite, big threat”.

While many New Mexicans in our state are aware how mosquitoes can carry West Nile virus and fleas potentially are infected with Plague, there are lesser known but potentially deadly diseases in the state where the infectious agent is carried by ticks.

“There are usually a few cases of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever every year in New Mexico and occasional cases of diseases such as relapsing fever and Colorado tick fever,” said Paul Ettestad, public health veterinarian with the Department of Health. “The risk to you or your family of being exposed to one of these potentially severe diseases can be greatly reduced by taking preventive measures to avoid ticks and their bite.”

The New Mexico Department of Health recommends the following prevention measures to decrease your risk of tick borne diseases:

Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for up to an hour to kill remaining ticks. (Some research suggests that shorter drying times may also be effective, particularly if the clothing is not wet.) New Mexico and the United States is fortunate compared to more than half the world’s population, which remains commonly at risk from diseases such as malaria, dengue, leishmaniasis, schistosomiasis, and yellow fever, carried by mosquitoes, flies, ticks, water snails and other animals. Every year, more than one billion people are infected and more than one million die from vector-borne diseases worldwide.

It is important to note dogs, New Mexico’s most common household pet, are very susceptible to tick bites and tickborne diseases. Vaccines are not available for all the tickborne diseases that dogs can get, and they don’t keep the dogs from bringing ticks into your home. For these reasons, it’s important to use a tick preventive product on your dog.

Tick bites on dogs may be hard to detect. Signs of tickborne disease may not appear for 7-21 days or longer after a tick bite, so watch your dog closely for changes in behavior or appetite if you suspect your pet has been bitten by a tick.

To reduce the chances that a tick will transmit disease to you or your pets:

For more information visit the World Health Day web page.

Media Contact

We would be happy to provide additional information about this press release. Simply contact David Morgan at 575-528-5197 (Office) or 575-649-0754 (Mobile) with your questions.