Mosquito & Tick-Borne Illnesses
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Mosquito-borne diseases are those spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE or “Triple E”) are viruses that can cause illness ranging from a mild fever to more serious disease like encephalitis or meningitis. They are spread to people through the bite of an infected mosquito. There are no specific treatments for either virus, but steps can be taken to protect yourself from illness, including:
- Removing standing water from the areas around your home
- Repairing damaged window screens
- Scheduling outdoor activities to avoid the hours around dawn and dusk
- Using insect repellents
- Wearing long-sleeved clothing
More information can be found on the Arbovirus Surveillance Information web page or by calling the Division of Public Health Epidemiology Program at 617-983-6800.
Avoid Mosquito Bites
- Apply Insect Repellent when Outdoors - Use a repellent, according to the instructions on the product label, containing:
- DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide)
- Picaridin (KBR 3023)
- Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus [p-methane 3, 8-diol (PMD)]
DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age and should be used in concentrations of 30% or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age.
- Be Aware of Peak Mosquito Hours - The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning.
- Clothing Can Help Reduce Mosquito Bites - Wearing long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.
Mosquito-Proof Your Home
- Drain Standing Water - Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by either draining or discarding items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty any unused flowerpots and wading pools, and change water in birdbaths frequently.
- Install or Repair Screens - Keep mosquitoes outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all of your windows and doors.
Protect Your Animals
- Animal owners should reduce potential mosquito breeding sites on their property by eliminating standing water from containers such as buckets, tires, and wading pools – especially after heavy rains. Water troughs provide excellent mosquito breeding habitats and should be flushed out at least once a week during the summer months to reduce mosquitoes near paddock areas.
- Horse owners should keep horses in indoor stalls at night to reduce their risk of exposure to mosquitoes.
- Owners should also speak with their veterinarian about mosquito repellents approved for use in animals and vaccinations to prevent WNV and EEE. If an animal is diagnosed with WNV or EEE, owners are required to report to DAR, Division of Animal Health by calling 617-626-1795 and to the Department of Public Health (DPH) by calling 617-983-6800.
Ticks are bugs that feed on the blood of mammals, birds, and reptiles. Deer ticks and dog ticks are found throughout Massachusetts and may spread different disease-causing germs when they bite you. Common tick-borne diseases in Massachusetts include Lyme Disease, Babesiosis, and Anaplasmosis. Lyme Disease, often characterized by a rash (that may look like a bull’s-eye) and/or flu-like symptoms, is common throughout Massachusetts.
Protect Your Family, Pets & Yourself from Tick Bites
- Brushing against tall grass and bushes will increase your exposure to ticks. Stick to main pathways and the center of trails if you can.
- Check for ticks once a day on children, pets and yourself.
- Dogs and horses are particularly susceptible. Talk to your veterinarian about the best ways to protect your animals from tick-borne disease
- Use repellents that contain DEET on your exposed skin and those that contain permethrin on your clothes.
- Weather permitting, wear long-sleeved, light-colored shirts and long pants tucked into your socks. This will help keep ticks away from your skin and make it easier to spot ticks on your clothing.