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Vector Control

Allison McCarty - Environmental Health Specialist
Kristin Seahorn - Environmental Health Specialist
Vector Control is any method to limit or eradicate the mammals, birds, insects or other arthropods which transmit disease pathogens.

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs, Cimex lectularius, are reddish-brown, oval-shaped, flattened insects that are about 1/4 inch long. Nymphs (immature bed bugs) resemble the adult bugs but are often smaller and lighter in color. Bed bugs usually feed on the blood of humans during the night-time hours and crawl away to hide in nearby cracks, crevices and recesses of furniture (especially mattresses) and walls of the home during the day. Most people experience itching, pain and/or swelling of the skin where a bed bug bite occurs (such as the arms, face or back) within 1 day of a bite. Although the bites can cause considerable discomfort and loss of sleep, bed bugs do not transmit disease after feeding on multiple hosts.

What are Bed Bugs?
Do it Yourself "Cleanup"
Life Cycle and Appearance of Bed Bugs
Quick Facts about Bed Bugs

Rats and Mice

Rodents are a threat to health, and they interfere with our economic and physical well-being.

  • They are destructive pests and serious safety hazards.
  • They start fires by gnawing on electric cables. The next time you hear the phrase "fire of unknown origin," think about rats and mice.
  • They eat large amounts of food, and they contaminate even more with their urine, feces, and hair. At least 20 percent of the world's food is eaten or contaminated by rats and mice each year.
  • They damage structures, books, furniture, even appliances, through gnawing and burrowing.
  • Worse, they spread disease to humans and other animals through their bite, by transporting fleas, lice, mites and ticks, and by leaving their droppings in food and other materials that humans contact. Rodents are vectors for bubonic plague, rat bite fever, leptospirosis, hantavirus, trichinosis, infectious jaundice, rat mite dermatitis, salmonellosis, pulmonary fever, and typhus. Mice have been linked to asthma.
  • Rats will bite babies in their cribs, because the smell of milk or other food on the baby is attractive to a rat looking for food. A clean baby in a clean crib is a lot safer from rat attack. To protect your baby, take the bottle away as soon it's finished, and wash its hands and face. Do the same for any disabled or elderly persons in your household who cannot care for themselves

More information on rats and mice in the areas we live in
Diseases directly Transmitted by Rodents


State health officials are urging Hoosiers again this year to take steps to protect themselves from mosquito-borne diseases, including Eastern Equine encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis and West Nile Virus. In 2009, there were three human cases of mosquito-borne disease in the state.

Mosquito Borne Disease:

Mosquito-Proof Your Home

  • Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes outside. Use your air conditioning, if you have it.
  • Help reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home by emptying standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires, and birdbaths on a regular basis.
Click here to find out how you can safeguard your family and home against mosquitos and their pesky bites.

Zika Virus

What you need to know about Zika and what the CDC is saying about the virus

Ticks and Lyme Disease

What to avoid when going outside in high populated areas where ticks are present: If tick-infested areas cannot be avoided because of work or recreational activities, there are combinations of prevention steps that can be taken to reduce the possibility that ticks will reach the skin and attach for sufficient time to transmit the disease. Recommendations for personal protection are:

  • Wear shoes that cover the entire foot (no sandals), socks, and long pants. Long- sleeved shirts are also desirable.
    • Pant legs should be stuffed into sock tops.
    • Since ticks will climb upward on the outer surface of clothing looking for bare skin, it is best to wear light-colored clothing to make it easy to see crawling ticks and remove them.
    • Hats will also help deter ticks from hiding in hair.
  • Use insect repellents with DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-touamide, or N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide) on clothing and skin.

Lyme disease is an infection caused by a bacterium known as Borrelia burgdorferi.
How is lyme disease prevented:
Preventing the ticks from biting you will prevent Lime disease. Ticks are most active in warmer months. To prevent tick bites:
  • Walk on cleared trails and stay in the center of the trail.
  • Avoid contact with leaf litter, brush, and overgrown grass.
  • Wear light colored long pants with cuffs tucked into sock and long sleeves when walking in grassy or wooded areas. It is easier to spot ticks on light colored clothing.
  • Put insect repellent containing DEET on cloths, socks, and shoes, and exposed skin.
  • Permethrin (Permanone) will keep ticks off clothes and shoes but should not be applied to skin.
  • Check every 2 hours for ticks on clothes or exposed skin.
  • After outdoor activity, brush off clothing and body. Inspect clothes and body for ticks, particularly in the areas of the groin, back of neck and knees, and armpits.
  • Take a hot shower and wash clothes in hot water.
  • Check your hiking gear and pets for ticks as well.

How to prevent tick bites while outdoors
Children and Lyme Disease
Quick Facts about Lyme Disease
Comic for Kids

Health Department Trapping for Mosquitos in your area

If you feel like you have an over-population of mosquitos we would like to trap some in your neighborhood. Please give us a call so we can find out if your property will qualify. Call us directly at our local county office 765-301-7660.

© 2021 Putnam County Health Department