Mosquitos, ticks mysteriously absent from Robeson

Bill Smith Contributing columnist

Noting the results from the Smith Observation Station (aka the Burn Pile) at the wood line in my yard, it confirmed what had been questioned in a taskforce meeting I was in: What happened to all the mosquitos and ticks this year? None of the attendees had seen a wealth of these vectors this year (statewide) except for Winston-Salem and the Tarboro area.

So where did they go? It has been extremely wet overall, so moisture was present. Some speculated maybe the heat, but although it’s a different species of mosquito here, heat did not seem to have much impact on them in Vietnam. Since this was the year of the cicada judging by all the noises I hear, I thought that maybe they fed on them, but no, they prefer the sap of a tree.

Irrespective of the reason, for 2016 the diseases are such that there has been, in humans, one case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis, and no cases of West Nile Virus, St. Louis Encephalitis and Lacrosse Encephalitis statewide, all of which are spread by mosquitos.

Now that says nothing about horses, which are even more vulnerable, but there are vaccines available for them. On the tick side, there are half as many cases confirmed than the previous year when you look at Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. As the season has peaked for both of these vectors, we should avoid previous numbers. Still, take personal responsibility to empty water containers and use personal protection while outdoors.

On a different note, the local veterinarians went to the fire departments and administered rabies vaccinations again this year. I have complained about the extremely low rate of vaccinations administered to the pets despite the state law saying all pets must be vaccinated at 4 months and up.

This just appears to be our norm. A survey of kindergarteners’ immunization records found that Robeson County was the fourth worst county in the state for having the required vaccinations at entry to school. In many instances this means the children were not properly protected against childhood diseases thus increasing their risk. Maybe I am the only one that sees that not protecting pets and children follows the same thought process — or lack thereof.

Bill Smith Contributing columnist Smith Contributing columnist

Bill Smith is director of the Robeson County Health Department

Bill Smith is director of the Robeson County Health Department

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