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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 18, 2008

Health Department urges disease prevention actions

The City of Kansas City, Mo., Health Department, in partnership with the Jackson County Health Department and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, urged residents in a news conference today to protect themselves against mosquito- and tick-borne illnesses.

Every year hundreds of Missourians contract illnesses carried by mosquitoes and ticks, including West Nile virus, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, tularemia and Lyme-like disease. These infections may range from no symptoms, to a flu-like illness to life-threatening.

People can protect themselves by taking simple precautions:

• Use effective insect repellent with DEET or picaridin on skin and clothing

• Wear protective clothing when practical

• Remove standing water from flowerpots and other containers, including tires and buckets

• Replace water in bird baths, pet bowls and wading pools at least every three days. Be sure gutters are unclogged and leaky faucets are repaired. Use larvicide in water that cannot be removed

• Limit outdoor activities at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active

• Make sure all screens fit tightly over doors and windows, and that they are in a good state of repair

• Check for ticks after spending time outside in grassy areas. If you find a tick, remove it. If it is already embedded, use tweezers to remove it, making sure that you do not squeeze the tick’s body.

“The sad part about these diseases is that they are preventable,” said Dr. Rex Archer, director of the Health Department. “Taking simple preventative steps can prevent illnesses that may affect you for the rest of your life.”

The DEET Education Program, which donated approximately 1,200 containers of insect repellent for low-income city residents, also participated in today's news conference.

For more information on mosquito- and tick-borne illnesses, visit the Health Department Web site at www.kcmo.org/health or the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Web site at www.dhss.mo.gov.

Media inquiries about this topic should be directed to Jeff Hershberger, Health Department, (816) 840-2548 (pager).

    
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