Environmental Health

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Environmental Health

Director: Keith Higman
Vectors, Living Environments, and Other Programs

Animal Bites

The Skagit County Health Department receives reports of animal bites in order to evaluate an individual's risk of exposure to the rabies virus.  Rabies is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system of mammals.Although now a rare disease in the US, once symptoms appear it is nearly always fatal in humans.   Any mammal can transmit rabies, but the main reservoir in Washington State is BATS.  Any animal bite should be cleaned with soap and water and evaluated by a health care professional.

If you find an injured bat, handle with gloves.  Call us for more information or check the links below!

Do you need to report an animal bite? Download the Bite Report Form


For information about rabies:  www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/rabies 

For information about bats, including how to remove them from your home: www.batcon.org  or  www.batsnothwest.org

For animal control issues: Contact your local animal control officer (through municipal police departments) or the Skagit Humane Society  360-757-0445.

Animals in Public Settings

Each year county or state fairs, petting zoos, animal swap meets, pet stores, feed stores, and many other venues encourage and permit the public to be in contact with animals, resulting in millions of human-animal interactions each year. Human-animal contact has many benefits as well as risks such as infectious diseases, exposure to rabies, and injuries. Infectious disease outbreaks have been caused by Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella species, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, ringworm, and many other pathogens. Such outbreaks have substantial medical, public health, legal, and economic effects.

Effective strategies to minimize risk of disease transmission include providing hand wash areas, separating food service and eating areas from animal display areas and providing information about diseases and animal care.

Indoor Air Quality and Mold

Indoor air quality can have a significant impact on the health of you and your family. Pollutants such as cigarette or wood smoke, dust, mold, and chemical vapors can lead to increased risk of acute and chronic disease. Northwest Clean Air Agency is an excellent resource for questions about indoor air quality. They also provide many tools on line at their website.

Landlord and Tenant Rights and Responsibilities

Washington's Residential Landlord-Tenant Act defines the minimum responsibilities of landlords and tenants of residential dwellings. These laws also impose certain restrictions and provide remedies if one party fails to carry out a duty. The remedies for landlords include eviction. For tenants the rent must be up-to-date until remedies can be applied. These include reduced rent and self-help repairs. For both parties the remedies include the right to sue for money damages, and an award of attorneys' fees to the successful party. The provisions of the act usually may not be waived by the landlord or tenant.

Mosquitoes, Ticks, and Bedbugs

Mosquitoes and ticks are blood-feeding parasites that can spread disease to humans. Both are generally problems in warm, dry weather. You may avoid mosquitoes by staying indoors, wearing repellent or long sleeves and pants in the morning and evening. Ticks generally live in tall grasses and brushy areas or may be associated with rodents.

Bedbugs are also blood-feeding parasites but are not known to cause disease in humans. If you suspect that bedbugs have infested your home, please contact a licensed pest control company. More information is available in the link below.

Rats and Mice

Rats and mice can spread disease. These diseases can be spread directly to humans through handling, contact with feces, urine, or saliva, and through bite wounds. People can also get diseases from ticks, mites, and fleas that have fed on an infected rodent. The best way to prevent rodent infestation is to remove food sources and shelter, which may include accumulated garbage.