National Mosquito Control Awareness Week

Protect Yourself from Diseases Caused by Mosquitoes

SYRACUSE, NY:  This week is National Mosquito Control Awareness Week, a good reminder to protect yourself and your family from diseases transmitted by mosquitoes now and throughout the fall season.

Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta explains, “We have seen a high number of mosquitoes due to the wet and warm weather we’ve experienced, so it is extremely important to use personal protection measures to prevent mosquito bites that may transmit West Nile virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus (EEEV).”

The Health Department’s annual mosquito surveillance and control program is in full swing for this season, which is from late May through early October each year. This program collects mosquitoes using traps located at 22 sites throughout the county. The mosquitoes are then counted, sorted by species, and submitted to Wadsworth Laboratory where they are tested for viruses including WNV and EEEV and the results are reported each week on our website. The program also uses larvicides (an insecticide) to control mosquito breeding in standing bodies of water at over 1,000 sites throughout the county.

While mosquito counts have been higher than usual, lab results show that no virus has been detected so far this season. The decision to spray is based on several factors, and the decision is made with assistance from the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). While mosquitoes can be a nuisance, the Health Department does not spray for comfort. Spraying will only occur if virus is present or if the number of mosquitoes and conditions are present which would indicate a public health threat.

Personal Protection Measures
The Health Department reminds residents that there are steps everyone should take to protect themselves from mosquito bites during outdoor activities:

  • Wear shoes, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck in your shirt and tuck pant legs into boots or socks.
  • Consider using insect repellents containing DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and other products that have been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Use this EPA search tool to help you choose the repellent product that is right for you, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions on proper use for safety and effectiveness.
  • Insect repellents should be applied only to intact skin or over clothing, and need to be reapplied regularly. Do NOT apply DEET or Picaridin directly onto children’s skin (apply to your own hands and then put it on the child). Repellent should not be used on babies younger than 2 months old.
  • Treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin. Permethrin can be used to treat clothing and camping gear and remain protective through several washings. Alternatively, you can buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear.

Mosquito-Proof Your Home
It is also important to mosquito-proof your home by replacing or repairing broken screens and getting rid of standing water where mosquitoes breed. Keep your property free of standing water by cleaning clogged rain gutters; turning over wheelbarrows and wading pools when not in use; changing water in birdbaths every four days; properly maintaining swimming pools, outdoor saunas, and hot tubs; draining water from pool covers; and, using landscaping to eliminate low spots where standing water accumulates.

Signs and Symptoms of WNV and EEE
Most people who are infected with WNV or EEE do not develop any signs or symptoms. However, both WNV and EEE are potentially serious illnesses. Signs and symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, confusion, tremors (shaking), convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, irritability, drowsiness, numbness, paralysis, vomiting, diarrhea, and coma. Consult your healthcare provider if you have been bitten by a mosquito and develop any of these signs and symptoms.

More Information and Resources
For more information about mosquito-borne illnesses, contact the Onondaga County Health Department, Division of Environmental Health at 315.435.1649 or visit:

Onondaga County Health Department

New York State Department of Health 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)