Protect yourself and loved ones from the diseases mosquitoes and ticks can carry
Mosquitoes can make you itchy, but they also can also carry West Nile Virus. Learn how to stay safe this summer.
Drain standing water from items around your home, yard, and business.
Tips to help prevent mosquito breeding:
- Discard old tires, buckets, drums or any water holding containers.
- Poke holes in tires used as swings or bumpers on docks.
- Keep roof gutters and downspouts clear of debris.
- Keep trash containers covered.
- Empty plastic wading pools at least once a week and store indoors when not in use.
- Drain unused swimming pools.
- Fill in tree rot holes and hollow stumps that hold water.
- Change the water in bird baths and plant urns at least once a week.
- Store boats upside down or drain rainwater weekly.
Use insect repellent when outdoors.
Tips to defend yourself and your family from mosquito bites:
- Use insect repellent that includes DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, IR 3535, or 2-undecanone on exposed skin. Always follow label instructions and supervise children in the use of repellents.
- Consult a physician before using repellents on infants and young children.
- Make sure door and window screens fit tightly and that all holes are repaired.
- If you are not able to protect yourself from mosquitoes inside your home (or hotel when traveling), sleep under a mosquito bed net.
Dawn to Dusk
Protect yourself from morning to night, especially during prime times for mosquito activity.
Tips for protection from dawn to dusk:
- Mosquitoes are most active in the early morning and night. Limit your outdoor activities during these times if possible. Use an insect repellent with DEET when you are out.
- Mosquitoes tend to stay low in damp places during daylight hours. Make sure to use repellent when spending time in shaded areas or near water.
- Be sure to use insect repellent outdoors or cover exposed skin whenever the weather is cool and damp.
Tips for how to dress to prevent mosquito bites:
- Wear light-colored long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and closed toe shoes when outdoors.
- Mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing. Treat clothes with permethrin or another Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insecticide for extra protection.
- When skin is exposed, use an insect repellent to further protect from bites.
Call the West Nile Virus Hotline at (847) 377-8300
to learn more about the signs and symptoms of West Nile Virus, or report areas of stagnant water or locations of dead birds.
With summer in full effect and ticks out to play, it’s important to know how to protect yourself from Lyme disease and other tickborne diseases.
Wear long sleeves, pants, and closed toe shoes when outdoors to cover your skin.
Tips for dressing to prevent tick bites:
- Wear light-colored long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and closed toe shoes when outdoors, and cover your head with a hat or scarf.
- Tuck pant cuffs into socks and tuck in your shirt for added protection.
- Use products that contain permethrin on clothing. Treat clothing and camping gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents with products containing 0.5% permethrin.
- Tumble dry 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.
- If clothes need to be washed first, use hot water if possible. Cold and medium temperature water will not kill ticks effectively. If the clothes cannot be washed in hot water, tumble dry on low heat for 90 minutes or high heat for 60 minutes. The clothes should be warm and completely dry.
Use insect repellent when outdoors and avoid tick habitats.
Tips for avoiding exposure to ticks:
- Use insect repellent on exposed skin that includes DEET, picaridin, or IR 3535. Always follow the label instructions and supervise children in the use of repellents.
- Consult a physician before using repellents on infants and young children.
- Stay on trails when in forest preserves and parks. Walk in the center of trails so plants do not brush against you.
- Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
Tips for reducing tick habitats around your home:
- Clear leaf litter under trees, and keep the ground clean under bird feeders.
- Keep grass near playground equipment short.
- Install a wood chip or gravel barrier between lawns and wooded and tall grass areas.
- Keep wood piles away from your home as these are attractive to small mammals such as mice, which can carry ticks.
Check your entire body for ticks after being outdoors, including your children and pets.
Tips for checking for ticks:
- Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.
- Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas.
- Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair.
- If your pet spends time outdoors, check them before coming inside. Feel the pet’s body for bumps, and carefully part the fur to inspect the skin. Pay close attention around the eyes, ears, throat, armpits, and belly.
- Examine outdoor gear. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing, tents, and backpacks.
Use fine-tipped tweezers to promptly remove ticks.
How to remove a tick:
- Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
- Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers.
- After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
- Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.
- Do not squeeze the tick’s body.
- Do not burn the tick with a match or cover it with petroleum jelly or oil. Doing this may cause the tick to regurgitate, or spit up, into your skin.
- Learn more about tick-borne diseases here.
Biologist’s Corner with Alana
Have a question or need help identifying a tick? Email Alana Bartolai, Ecological Services Program Coordinator, at ABartolai2@lakecountyil.gov and we’ll share the answers here!
How do I prevent ticks in my yard?
“It’s an active time for ticks as spring, early summer, and fall are the peak times for tick activity. It’s helpful to take extra precautions during these times when outdoors. Some simple landscaping can help reduce ticks in your yard, such as creating a three-foot barrier of rocks or wood chips near fields or wooded areas, clearing leaves and wood piles and brush, regularly mowing, and removing plants to deer like to eat.”
What kinds of repellants can I use against ticks?
“You can use EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, lemon of eucalyptus oil, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone.”
Promoting the health and well-being of all who live, work, and play in Lake County.
Here for Lake County. Here for You.
At the Lake County Health Department and Community Health Center, we provide our residents with convenient access to the services they need to lead healthy and productive lives.
Our mission is promoting the health and well-being of all who live, work, and play in Lake County. To accomplish this mission, we work closely with community partners to address the social, economic, and environmental causes of health inequity. If we can improve health for all Lake County residents, our vision will become a reality: Healthy Choices. Healthier People. Healthiest Communities.
We are grateful to our partners for helping us achieve our goals. We especially thank our Board of Health, Governing Council and the Lake County Board for their direction and leadership.