Mosquitoes & Ticks Remain a Threat; Mosquitoes in Erie County Test Positive for West Nile Virus; Active Time for Ticks

Modified: September 17, 2018 3:11pm

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From the Office of the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale R. Burstein

Date: September 17, 2018            

Contact: Mary C. St. Mary/Mary.StMary@Erie.Gov

Phone: 716.858.4941/ Mobile: 716.253.3925

Mosquitoes & Ticks Remain a Threat

Mosquitoes in Erie County Test Positive for West Nile Virus; Active Time for Ticks

ERIE COUNTY, NY— West Nile Virus (“WNV”) has been identified in numerous mosquito pools in Erie County through routine mosquito WNV testing.  WNV is a mosquito-borne illness that is transmitted through a bite from an infected mosquito. There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent WNV infection. Fortunately, the majority of individuals infected with WNV will not have any symptoms. Approximately one in five people who are infected will develop a mild fever with other flu like symptoms. Less than 1% of infected people will develop a serious, sometimes fatal, neurological illness.

ECDOH strongly recommends that all residents protect themselves from mosquito bites whether close to home or traveling outside the Western New York area. Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County Commissioner of Health said: “I want to remind residents how to minimize their exposure to mosquitoes: limit outdoor activities at times of high mosquito activity (dusk and dawn), cover as much as skin as possible with clothing when going outdoors and use an effective insect repellant that contains 25-30% DEET on exposed skin. These same precautionary measures will also help protect people from other insect-borne diseases, such as Lyme disease, carried by ticks.”

“Mosquitoes are an unavoidable summertime nuisance. By taking a few simple steps, you can reduce your risk of being bitten and possibly contracting a mosquito-borne disease like WNV,” said Peter Tripi, Senior Public Health Sanitarian, ECDOH Department of Environmental Health. “In addition, the end of September and especially into October is ‘prime’ time to contract Lyme disease.”

The adult blacklegged (deer) ticks that spread Lyme disease begin their prime feeding activity just about the time of the first frost. That is because their main host animals are deer and deer are actively moving around in the fall. When deer are not around, blacklegged ticks will attach to people or pets anytime the temperature is above freezing. For freezing temperatures to actually kill ticks there must be a sustained number of days below 10 degrees F. In recent years, consistently low temperatures have become less frequent. Unfortunately, Lyme disease from tick bites should be considered a threat year-round.

What you can do:

Limit Exposure to Mosquitoes:

  • Eliminate local mosquito breeding sites--mosquitoes develop in standing water
  • Do not leave standing water for longer than two days before dumping it out
  • Change water in birdbaths and planter bases every two days
  • Clean clogged gutters to allow rainfall to drain freely
Reduce exposure to mosquitoes--avoid mosquito bites by limiting outdoor activities during the times of high mosquito activity at dusk and dawn. Use barriers to protect skin, like mosquito nets/screens for baby strollers/playpens, long sleeves/pants, socks/shoes, and hats Discourage mosquitoes from biting. Mosquitoes are attracted to people by odors on the skin so avoid wearing scented lotions or cologne/perfume Mosquitoes are also attracted to the carbon dioxide exhaled from the breath, but we do not recommend you stop breathing. Use an effective repellant with a concentration of 25 to 30% DEET during outdoor activities.
  • Spray on skin & then rub it in
  • Do not spray on the face--spray on your hands and then rub it on your face
  • Reapply repellent after sweating or getting wet
  • Products with lower concentrations of DEET need to be reapplied more often
  • Do not use on cuts, irritated, or infected skin

Reduce Ticks In Your Yard

  • Keep lawns mowed and edges trimmed; clear brush, leaf litter and tall grass around the house, and at the edges of gardens and stone walls
  • Stack woodpiles neatly away from the house, preferably off the ground
  • In the fall, clear your yard of all leaf and garden litter, where ticks can live in the winter
  • Keep ground under bird feeders clean so small animals that can carry ticks into your yard are not attracted
  • Avoid Direct Contact with Ticks
  • Avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter
  • Walk in the center of trails. Stay on cleared trails when walking or hiking; avoid the edge habitat where ticks are likely to be 

For more information:         

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Phone: (716) 858-7690

Fax: (716) 858-8701

Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH)
95 Franklin Street
Buffalo, New York 14202

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