Environmental Health

Vector Surveillance

Because insects can carry disease and transmit them to humans, the Environmental Health Division actively monitors mosquito and tick activity. They capture them, screen them, and have them tested for West Nile Virus and Lyme Disease. They also work to identify invasive species that can potentially carry the Zika virus. Below is informational material on protecting yourself from these vector-borne illnesses.


Female mosquitos need blood to help complete the process of laying eggs. Since male mosquitos do not lay eggs, they do not need to feed on blood, so only female mosquitos bite.While mosquitos may seem like a nuisance, they are important to the ecosystem. Not only are they a food source for frogs, bats and dragonflies, but they also act as pollinators by feeding on nectar.

The Culex species of mosquito feed on birds, especially the Corvidae family, which includes blue jays, robins and crows. Because these birds carry the West Nile Virus, the mosquitos become infected and transfer the virus to humans. West Nile Virus is present in our community.

West Nile Virus
  • West Nile Virus is a flavivirus
  • 80% who contract the virus develop no symptoms
  • 20% develop symptoms like headache, body aches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea or rash
  • 1% will develop encephalitis or meningitis whose symptoms include headache, fever, stiff neck, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures or paralysis
  • People most susceptible to the virus are the elderly or immunocompromised
  • There is no vaccine or cure for West Nile Virus
  • West Nile Virus Brochure
Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE)

EEE is a rare, but serious disease that is caused by a virus spread by infected mosquitoes causing inflammation of the brain (encephalitis). In the United States, approximately 5-10 EEE cases in humans are reported annually. It is one of the most severe mosquito-borne diseases in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately one-third of the human cases of EEE are fatal. For more information about EEE and other vector borne diseases, follow this link to Michigan.gov website.

Zika Virus

The mosquito species that carry the Zika virus are not currently present in our area. However, the Zika virus is still a worldwide concern and can be contract through out-ofstate travel and sexual contact. Please contact the Kent County Health Department for more information.



Ticks are blood feeding parasites. They typically can be found in wooded or grassy areas, especially along the edges of trails, roads, and yards. Once on a host (deer, raccoons, and other wildlife), ticks crawl until they find a suitable spot to feed. Then they burrow their mouthparts into the skin for a blood meal.

Ticks can feed anywhere from several minutes to several weeks depending on their life stage, type of host, and type of tick. It is during feeding that infected ticks can transmit disease to their hosts. Different types of ticks spread different diseases. A tick has to be attached for at least 24 hours to spread disease.


Ticks can attach to any part of the human body but prefer body creases and areas with hair such as the groin, armpits, sock line and scalp. The best way to prevent tick borne diseases is to reduce your risk of being bitten by a tick.

  • Wear clothing that covers the arms, legs, and feet whenever you are outdoors.
  • Wear light colored clothing to spot ticks easily.
  • Apply insect/tick repellent containing DEET. Follow the product label directions for proper use.
  • Walk in the center of trails to avoid contact with overgrown grass and brush at the edge of the trail.
  • Check yourself, your children and pets thoroughly for ticks. Carefully inspect areas around the head, neck and ears. Look for what may appear like a new freckle or speck of dirt.
  • Lyme Disease Prevention Fact Sheet
  • Información sobre las picaduras de garrapatas y la enfermedad de Lyme