Pests known as vectors can cause and spread diseases that pose serious risks to public health. Vectors are insects, rodents, birds, or other animals that can carry disease pathogens. Vector-borne diseases are spread two different ways:

  1. Mechanically (the vector simply transports it on its contaminated body)
  2. Biologically (the vector spreads a pathogen through a bite)

Click below to learn more about specific pests.

Pest Control

There are a variety of ways you can control pests and the risks they pose. If pests, such as rats or cockroaches, rely on humans for food, water, and places to live, they can only be controlled using integrated pest management (IPM). An IPM approach confronts pests on several different levels. By removing their food, water, and safe living spaces, you can upset their lifestyle. This makes it harder for them to live and breed.


Accumulation of garbage offers pests food, water, and places to live/hide. Store trash in bins with secure lids, and make sure your trash pick-up is often enough to prevent excess trash surrounding the bin.

Seal Up! Examine your home for holes that might allow pest entry. Caulk any openings larger than a dime. Use window screens, chimney caps, and draft-guards beneath doors to attics. Fill electrical and plumbing holes with stainless steel wool, caulk, or other material rated for pest exclusion. Ensure that all doors to the outside close tightly. Consider consulting with a licensed pest control operator for more guidance.

Visit  MSU Extension’s Integrated Pest Management website to learn more.


Rats and mice are known to carry many diseases. Rodents can also carry ticks, mites, or fleas that can act as vectors to spread diseases between rodents and people. Two classic signs of rodent presence are rodent droppings (poop) and gnaw marks.

Two types of mice found in Michigan may carry hantavirus, the deer mouse and the white-footed mouse. Both are brown in color with white on their bellies. Hantavirus is most commonly caused by exposure to urine or droppings, but also from rodent bites.

Visit CDC’s How to Control Wild Rodent Infestations webpage to learn more.


Bats are the leading cause of rabies deaths in people in Michigan and in the United States.  The good news is that most bats don’t have rabies, but remember that all animal bites are required to be reported to the local health department within 24 hours per Public Health Code. Report using the online Animal Bite / Exposure Report Form.  Any direct contact with a bat should be considered a possible exposure to rabies. Other possible exposures can include finding a bat in the same room as a person who may not be aware that contact has occurred, such as a sleeping person, a child, or someone who is mentally impaired or intoxicated. If someone may have been exposed to a bat, DO NOT LET THE BAT GO. Safely capture the bat for rabies testing, and immediately contact LCHD. Follow the steps below to safety capture a bat:

  1. Find a container like a box or a can large enough for the bat to fit in and a piece of cardboard large enough to cover the container opening. Punch small air holes in the cardboard.
  2. Put on leather work gloves. When the bat lands, approach it slowly and place the container over it. Slide the cardboard under the container to trap the bat inside.
  3. Tape the cardboard to the container to secure the bat inside.
  4. Contact LCHD at (517) 546-9850.

More information on bats can be found on CDC’s Bats and Rabies website. 

Bed Bugs

Bed Bugs  are not known to spread disease, but can be an annoyance because their presence may cause itching and loss of sleep.  If you think you may have bed bugs, it’s very important to do a thorough inspection, and to begin treatment as soon as possible.  Treating a bed bug infestation early will save much time and expense.  Please check out Michigan Department of Health & Human Services’ Bed Bug website for more information.

Last Modified March 6, 2024

Environmental Health
Livingston County Health Department Logo
Matt Bolang

Matt Bolang
Health Officer



(517) 546-9858


Monday – Friday
8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Closed County Holidays


2300 E Grand River Ave
Suite 102
Howell, MI 48843


(517) 546-9853
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