Protect Yourself from Diseases Caused by Ticks and Mosquitoes

The Onondaga County Health Department is encouraging residents to protect themselves from mosquito and tick bites. Health Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta reminds residents that “Now that warmer weather has finally arrived, it is important to consistently use personal protection measures to reduce the risk of mosquito and tick bites that may transmit West Nile virus (WNV), Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus (EEEV), or Lyme disease.”

The Health Department reminds residents to take personal protection measures during outdoor activities:

  • Wear shoes and light color socks, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck in your shirt and tuck pants legs into boots or socks.  Check your body for ticks after being outdoors.
  • Consider using insect repellent containing DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535. Insect repellents should be applied only to intact skin or over clothing.  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. With any insect repellent, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on proper use and reapplication.

Dr. Gupta explains “Mosquitoes can also carry the viruses that spread diseases like West Nile virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus (EEEV)”.  The Health Department will begin the annual mosquito surveillance and control program in late May.  This program collects and tests mosquitoes for viruses including WNV and EEEV.  The program also uses larvicides (an insecticide) to control mosquito breeding in standing bodies of water. Mosquito proof your home by replacing or repairing broken screens. Clean clogged rain gutters, turn over wheelbarrows and wading pools when not in use, change water in bird baths every four days, properly maintain swimming pools, outdoor saunas, and hot tubs, drain water from pool covers, and use landscaping to eliminate low spots where standing water accumulates.

Dr. Gupta further stresses the importance of checking your body immediately after any outdoor activity for an attached tick.  An infected tick must be attached to the skin for 36 hours to transmit the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.  Keep ticks away by mowing your lawn often and removing brush.  Playground toys, decks and patios should be kept away from wooden areas.  In addition, do not feed deer on your property.  If you see a tick, follow the steps below to remove it:

  • Take tweezers to the tick’s head or mouth, where it enters the skin.
  • Pull the tick firmly up, in a steady motion, away from the skin.
  • Clean the bite with soap and water, rubbing alcohol, or hydrogen peroxide.
  • Keep a record of the date, time, and where you were bitten.
  • For more information about tick removal visit:

Call your health care provider if a tick has been attached to your skin for more than 36 hours, or if you had a recent tick bite and develop any symptoms (“bull’s-eye” rash, fever, fatigue, chills, headache, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes).

For more information about mosquito-borne illnesses or Lyme disease, contact the Onondaga County Health Department, Division of Environmental Health at 315-435-1649 or visit: