bugsafetyMay 24, 2017 - Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino and Health Commissioner Sherlita Amler, MD provided practical tips on how to avoid Lyme disease and West Nile Virus at a news conference today at the Marshlands Conservancy, a 147-acre wildlife sanctuary in Rye.

Astorino and Dr. Amler explained how residents can guard themselves and their homes against ticks and mosquitoes from spring through fall.

“Ticks and mosquitoes shouldn’t prevent us from enjoying the outdoors this spring and summer,” Astorino said. “Remember to cover up and use insect repellents to keep ticks and mosquitoes from biting, and perform tick checks daily on yourself, your family and pets after spending time in wooded and grassy areas.”

Astorino explained that appropriate attire in wooded areas includes wearing long pants tucked into your socks, a tucked-in long-sleeve shirt and shoes to create a barrier between tick and your skin. Wearing light-colored, tightly woven clothes will help show ticks more easily.  When hiking, keep to the middle of the trail to avoid contact with shrubs and plants that can harbor ticks.

“It’s hard to get kids to wear anything but flip flops and shorts during warmer weather, but these are the wrong things to wear in tick and mosquito territory,” Astorino said. “Ticks don’t jump or fly. They stay low to the ground and grab onto people, pets and wildlife that brush up against them. That’s why repellents and daily tick checks are so important now.”

Dr. Amler recommended repellents that contain 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin and follow the product instructions.  “Parents should apply repellents to their children, avoiding their hands, eyes, and mouth, and be sure to wash it off before bedtime.” she said. “Use products that contain permethrin on clothing.”

Other recommendations included treating clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents with products containing 0.5% permethrin, which remains protective through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is available and may provide longer protection. Pet owners should discuss tick preventive products with their veterinarian.

Daily tick checks for people and pets can help prevent the transmission of Lyme disease. If a tick is attached to your skin for less than 24 hours, the chance of getting Lyme disease is extremely small; however, other diseases may be transmitted more quickly. When checking for ticks, be sure to check:

  • Under the arms
  • In and around the ears
  • Inside the belly button
  • Back of the knees
  • In and around all head and body hair
  • Between the legs
  • Around the waist

Peter DeLucia, assistant health commissioner, spoke about how to properly remove a tick by using fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick and pull upward with steady pressure.

bugsafety2To prevent ticks in your yard, keep your grass cut short, remove leaf litter and debris, create a three foot barrier of wood chips between your lawn and any surrounding wooded areas, and select deer-resistant plants.

Mosquitoes can go from larvae to biting adults in about 10 days. To keep mosquitoes from breeding in your yard, dump out standing water and remove pails, wheelbarrows and other items that can hold standing water ,clear your gutters of leaves and debris, check your screens for tears, and add mosquito dunks to birdbaths and change the water weekly.

For more information about these and other health topics, contact the Westchester County Department of Health at (914) 813-5000, like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wchealthdept, follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/wchealthdept or visit www.westchestergov.com/health.