(WSYR-TV) — As the warmer months return to Central New York so does the need to protect ourselves and our families from mosquito- and tick-borne diseases.
While enjoying the great outdoors 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 from now through the fall season.
How can I protect myself?
- Wear shoes, light-colored socks, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck in your shirt and tuck pant legs into boots or socks. Check your body for ticks after being outdoors.
- 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. 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 boots, clothing and camping gear and remain protective through several washings. Alternatively, you can buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear.
Can I mosquito-proof my home?
Yes! By replacing or repairing broken screens and getting rid of standing water where mosquitoes breed you can protect your home as well.
Keep your property free of standing water by cleaning clogged rain gutters, turn over wheelbarrows and wading pools when they aren’t in use, and change the water in birdbaths every four days.
Maintaining swimming pools, outdoor saunas, and hot tubs also helps.
How can I protect against ticks?
After outdoor activities, it is critical to check your body for an attached tick.
Early removal is important—the longer an infected tick is attached to the skin, the higher the chances are for transmitting disease.
According to the CDC, an infected tick must be attached for 36 to 48 hours or more before the Lyme disease bacterium can be transmitted.
To keep ticks away mow your lawn often and remove brush.
Playground toys, decks, and patios should be kept away from wooded areas.
You also want to avoid feeding deer on your property.
If you see a tick embedded in your skin, follow the steps below to learn how 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.
And don’t forget your furry friends. A regular application of a flea/tick prevention medication can provide protection for them.
What are the signs or symptoms of being infected?
Most people who are infected with West Nile virus or EEE don’t develop signs or symptoms.
However, both West Nile virus and EEE are potentially serious illnesses. If you’ve been bitten by a mosquito and are experiencing any of the following symptoms, consult your healthcare provider.
- high fever
- neck stiffness
- tremors or shaking
- muscle weakness
- vision loss
- or coma
If a tick has attached to your skin for more than 36 hours, or if you’ve had a recent tick bite and develop any of the following symptoms, consult your healthcare provider. Lyme disease can be prevented and effectively treated with appropriate and timely medical treatment.
- bulls-eye rash
- muscle and joint aches
- or swollen lymph nodes
For more information visit the Onondaga County Health Department’s website at OnGov.net/Health/