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Any person bitten by a mosquito infected with West Nile Virus (WNV) is at risk. Ticks spread many diseases and are active in Ohio from early spring until late fall. Diseases spread by ticks include: Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease and Ehrlichiosis.


Preventing Mosquito Bites

Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water, which includes puddles, stagnant ditches, and containers such as old tires, buckets, cans, neglected swimming pools, etc. Storm sewers, culverts, and catch-basins, etc. provide an outdoor resting place for mosquitoes  most commonly associated with WNV. It is important to apply mosquito repellant when participating in any outdoor activity — especially when fishing, camping, or boating at night.

Every year, WNV-positive mosquitoes are found all over Ohio. Click here for a detailed surveillance history. Click here for interactive maps.

Follow these tips to help avoid mosquito bites:

  • Make sure that doors and windows have tight-fitting screens.
  • Repair or replace all torn screens in your home.
  • Remove all discarded tires from your property.
  • Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots, or similar water-holding containers.
  • Make sure roof gutters drain properly. Clean clogged gutters in the spring and fall.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs. If not in use, keep empty and covered.
  • Drain water from pool covers.
  • Change the water in bird baths at least once a week.
  • Turn over plastic wading pools, and wheelbarrows, etc. when not in use.
  • Clean ditches of obstructions so they drain properly.
  • Eliminate any standing water that collects on your property.
  • Check trees for cavities that hold water and fill them with soil, gravel, or sand.
  • Remind or help neighbors to eliminate breeding sites on their properties.
  •  Use insect repellent and follow the label directions.

Preventing tick-borne diseases

Tick-borne diseases can be transmitted only by the bite of an infected tick. An infected animal or person cannot pass the infection on to another animal or person. Ticks normally become infected by taking a blood meal from an infected animal. Use caution when removing ticks from pets and be sure to check yourself and loved ones after spending time in ticks’ habitat.

Ohio has seen a significant increase in the black-legged tick populations in recent years. Blacklegged ticks, also known as deer ticks, are the only known vector of Lyme disease in the eastern U.S. Deer ticks are somewhat smaller and darker than our other important tick species and the adults are active during the late fall – early spring, when the other species are dormant.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is caused by a bacteria carried primarily by the American dog tick. Not all ticks are infected and an infected tick is usually attached to the host for four to six hours before it transmits disease. Adult American dog ticks look for large hosts such as dogs, but they will also feed on humans. They are the most common ticks in Ohio.

The risk of exposure to ticks and disease can be reduced by using these precautions:

  • Avoid tick-infested areas (i.e. wooded or weedy areas).
  • If exposure is unavoidable, tuck pants into sock tops or boots.
  • Wear light-colored clothing to make it easier to find crawling ticks.
  • Use repellants and follow label instructions carefully.
  • Check children for ticks frequently.
  • Use caution when handling ticks and dispose of properly.
Dogs:
  • Dogs can become infected with tick-borne diseases.
  • Dogs should be kept in well-mowed areas during tick season (April-September).
  • Treatments are available to control ticks on dogs. Always follow label instructions.
  • Inspect dogs for ticks every day. Ticks should be handled with caution and disposed of safely.
  • Keep yard and outdoor play areas well mowed to discourage tick infestation.

Tick removal:
  • If a tick is attached, remove it as soon as possible; this reduces your risk of infection.
  • Shield fingers with a paper towel or use tweezers. Grasp the tick close to the skin. With steady pressure, pull the tick straight up and out.
  • Do not twist or jerk the tick. This may cause the mouth parts to be left in the skin.
  • Do not crush or puncture the tick.
  • Do not use a flame or cigarette to remove a tick. This may cause the tick to burst and increase disease risk.
  • After removing a tick, thoroughly disinfect the bite site and wash hands with soap and water.

Resources:

ODH Tick Brochure

ODH Mosquito brochure

ODH WNV Prevention Tips

CDC: Information regarding insect repellants