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Public Health - Seattle & King County

Animals, bugs and pests

Avian influenza
Avian (or bird) flu: a disease caused by avian influenza viruses that occurs naturally among birds. In rare cases, it can be transmitted from birds to humans.

Bed bugs
Bed bugs are small insects that feed on human blood. Most people have itchiness, red spots, or welts that look like mosquito or flea bites hours later. There may be an itchy bump but the tiny bite mark may not be visible. These usually fade after several days. A few people have severe allergic reactions.

Goat, private ownership
Understand the legal issues, disease concerns, goat husbandry, milking, and sanitation before you get a goat as a pet or for food production.

Gypsy moths and Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki (B.t.k.) pesticide
Fact sheet on human health risks of using B.t.k. pesticide to control gypsy moths.

Mosquitoes and West Nile virus
West Nile virus can infect humans, birds, mosquitoes, horses and other animals. Learn about Public Health's West Nile virus surveillance activities in King County.

Pet business regulations and permits
Permit information for commercial kennels, pet daycares and shops where pets are sold.

Rabies prevention
Rabies is a disease caused by the rabies virus. People start to show signs of the disease 1 to 3 months or longer after being bitten by an animal carrying the rabies virus. The early signs of rabies can be fever or headache, but this changes quickly to central nervous system signs, such as confusion, sleepiness or agitation.

Raccoon latrines
Raccoons establish community latrines—sites where they repeatedly deposit fresh feces and is very likely to contain roundworm eggs that can be hazardous to human health. If these infectious eggs are inadvertently swallowed by humans, other mammals, or birds, larvae (immature stage of worms) hatch out of the eggs and move into the organs of the body.

Rodent and rat control
Rats are dangerous! They can ruin your food, destroy things in your home and start electrical fires. Rats and their fleas can carry disease. Learn tips for preventing rats getting into your building and how to report them to Public Health and local code enforcement offices.

Structural pest control
Effective August 20, 2012, Public Health - Seattle & King County no longer registers and regulates businesses engaged in structural pest control, or regulates master pest control operators. See King County Board of Health Rule & Regulation 12-01 (PDF). For questions or complaints concerning pest control businesses, please contact the Washington State Department of Agriculture, at 1-877-301-4555.

Swimmers Itch
Swimmer's itch (cercarial dermatitis) is an itchy rash caused by a parasite in lake water. If water contaminated with parasites dries on a swimmer's skin, the microscopic parasites can burrow into the skin. Although the rash can be very uncomfortable, it is not serious and affects only the skin, not the rest of the body.

Zoonotic Disease Program
Zoonotic diseases (also called zoonoses) are infectious diseases that can be spread from animals to humans. There are many zoonotic diseases, and their threat to human health is growing due to increasing global movement of people and animals and the effects of human populations expanding into previously undeveloped wildlife habitats. Climatic change may also lead to greater zoonotic diseases threats.