New York State Department of Health Reminds New Yorkers to Protect Against Mosquitoes and Ticks During Outdoor Activities

Proper Precautions Help Prevent the Spread of Mosquito and Tick-Borne illnesses

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 9, 2021) – The New York State Department of Health today reminded New Yorkers to take precautions to protect against diseases that are transmitted by mosquitoes and ticks, now that warm weather has arrived and people are spending more time outdoors.

"As we continue our efforts to defeat COVID-19 and return to normal, including returning to the activities we love, we encourage all New Yorkers to enjoy the outdoors while also taking the proper steps to protect themselves from mosquitos and ticks to avoid potential illness," New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said."As infected mosquitoes and ticks can be found in outdoor areas across the state, prevention remains the most effective method to protect yourself and others from exposure to mosquitoes and ticks that can transmit diseases like West Nile virus, eastern equine encephalitis virus or Lyme disease."


West Nile virus (WNV), an infection that can cause serious illness and, in some cases, death, is transmitted to humans and some animals through the bite of an infected mosquito. Not all mosquitoes carry WNV, which was first identified in New York State in 1999. Since 2000, approximately 900 human cases of WNV and 100 deaths have been reported statewide.

Most people infected with WNV do not develop any signs or symptoms. If illness develops, symptoms usually occur 3-15 days after the bite from an infected mosquito. People with mild cases of mosquito-borne disease may develop fever, headache, body aches and occasionally a skin rash or swollen glands. People with severe cases of WNV usually have a sudden onset of headache, high fever, neck stiffness, muscle weakness, altered mental status, tremors, convulsions, paralysis, inflammation of the brain or the membranes of the brain and spinal cord or coma.

The following precautions are highly recommended to reduce risk of infection from mosquito-borne diseases including West Nile virus:

  • Cover your skin as completely as possible when outside when mosquitoes are present and active. Wear long sleeves, pants and socks.
  • Use insect repellent on exposed skin and follow label directions. Repellents that include DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus are recommended.
  • Make sure there are screens in your home's windows and doors. Make sure the screens are free of rips, tears and holes.
  • Eliminate all standing water in yards and around your home and property where mosquitoes can breed, including: plastic containers, pool covers, wading pools, ceramic pots, clogged drainpipes, and wheelbarrows. Also change water in bird baths twice a week.


Tick bites can transmit several diseases including Lyme disease, which is the most-commonly reported tick-borne disease in New York State. Over the last 10 years, NYS has averaged more than 7,500 new cases each year. Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that spreads when an infected black-legged tick – commonly called a deer tick, which is the most common tick in New York – bites a person and remains attached for 36 hours or more. In most cases, an expanding rash resembling a bull's eye or solid patch will appear near the site of the bite. If an expanding rash with a diameter of more than two inches appears or flu-like symptoms occur over a 30-day period following a tick bite, individuals should contact their health care provider immediately.

Some of the less common tick-borne diseases include babesiosis and anaplasmosis, averaging 483 and 613 cases annually since 2010, respectively. Other diseases are rare, such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, averaging 33 cases annually since 2010 and Powassan encephalitis, totaling 31 cases since 2010. While these diseases vary in their severity, all can cause serious illness and even death, if untreated.

In 2018, the Asian longhorned tick was identified in New York State for the first time and has now been found in several locations in New York City, Long Island and the Lower Hudson Valley. While this tick has transmitted disease to humans in other parts of the world, more research is needed to determine whether this can occur in the United States. To date, the Department has tested more than 1,500 of these ticks and has not found disease-causing agents. Regardless, New Yorkers should continue to take measures to protect themselves, their children and their pets against all ticks and tick-borne diseases that are present in New York State. In addition, the longhorned tick is also a concern for New York's agricultural industry and may pose a threat to livestock.

The Department of Health and its partners routinely collect and analyze ticks from across the state to better understand the tick population, tick behavior and regional trends in diseases carried by ticks. Current and retrospective tick collection and testing results are publicly available on the Department's Health Data NY website.

While hiking, working, or spending time in wooded areas, follow these simple steps to help prevent tick bites:

  • Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts for protection. Consider treating clothing with permethrin.
  • Check for ticks often while outdoors and brush off any before they attach.
  • Perform a full body check multiple times during the day, as well as at the end of the day, to ensure that no ticks are attached.
  • Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors. If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed.
  • Shower soon after coming indoors.
  • Consider using EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin or IR3535, following label instructions.

More information about mosquito and tick-borne diseases is available here: and here: