Ticks and Mosquitoes

"State public health officials announce season’s first West Nile virus-positive mosquito samples - July 2nd

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced that West Nile virus (WNV) has been detected in mosquitoes in Massachusetts for the first time this year. The presence of WNV was confirmed today by the Massachusetts State Public Health Laboratory in two mosquito samples collected on June 25 in the city of Quincy in Norfolk County.
“This is about the time of year that we expect to start finding West Nile virus in mosquitoes,”
said Public Health Commissioner Robbie Goldstein, MD, PhD.

“It is an important reminder that people should take steps to prevent mosquito bites. WNV can cause serious illness and
there are simple things that you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones.”

WNV is usually transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. There were six human cases of WNV in 2023. No human or animal cases of WNV have been detected so far this year. No evidence of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) has been found so far this season.
There were no human or animal cases of EEE in 2023. While WNV can infect people of all ages, people over the age of 50 are at
higher risk for severe disease. Most people infected with WNV will have no symptoms. When present, WNV symptoms tend to include
fever and flu-like illness. In rare cases, more severe illness can occur.

“This is the beginning of our mosquito season in Massachusetts. From now on, we expect mosquito populations to increase, and we will start to see more of them carrying WNV,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Catherine M. Brown.
“Use a mosquito repellent with an EPA-registered ingredient, wear clothing to reduce exposed skin, drain standing water, and repair window screens. We also encourage everyone to make it a habit to check the mosquito-borne disease webpages on mass.gov
so you know when and where WNV activity is occurring.”

Avoid Mosquito Bites
Apply Insect Repellent when Outdoors. Use a repellent with an EPA-registered ingredient (DEET (N,N-Diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), oil of lemon eucalyptus (p-menthane-3,8-diol (PMD) or IR3535) according to the instructions on the product label. DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age and should be used in concentrations of 30 percent or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age.

Be Aware of Peak Mosquito Hours. The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes.
Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during the evening or early morning in areas of high risk.

Clothing Can Help Reduce Mosquito Bites. Wearing long sleeves, long pants,
and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.

Mosquito-Proof Your Home

Drain Standing Water. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed
by either draining or discarding items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty any unused
flowerpots and wading pools and change the water in birdbaths frequently.

Install or Repair Screens. Keep mosquitoes outside by having tightly fitting screens on all your windows and doors.

Protect Your Animals
Animal owners should reduce potential mosquito breeding sites on their property by eliminating standing water from containers such as buckets, tires, and wading pools – especially after heavy rains. Water troughs provide excellent mosquito breeding habitats and should be flushed out at least once a week during the summer months to reduce mosquitoes near paddock areas. Horse owners should keep horses in indoor stalls at night to reduce their risk of exposure to mosquitoes. Owners should also speak with their veterinarian about mosquito repellents approved for use in animals and vaccinations to prevent WNV and EEE. If an animal is suspected of having WNV or EEE,
owners are required to report to the Department of Agricultural Resources, Division of Animal Health
by calling 617-626-1795, and to the Department of Public Health by calling 617-983-6800.

More information, including all WNV and EEE positive results, can be found on the Arbovirus Surveillance Information web page at
Mosquito-borne Diseases | Mass.gov, which is updated daily, or by calling the DPH Division of Epidemiology at 617-983-6800."

Link to original article can be found here: 

How to Prevent Tick Bites
Ticks can cause different diseases, such as Lyme disease and Powassan virus. Protect yourself from tick bites by:

  • Checking for ticks everyday
  • Wear inset repellent with an EPA-registered active ingredient 
  • Wear long-sleeved  shirts and long pants that are tucked into socks when possible to help keep ticks away from your skin
  • Check pets that spend time outdoors 

Powassan Virus

PowassanPowassan virus (POW) causes a rare but serious disease that is spread by the bites of black-legged deer ticks. Approximately 100 cases have been reported in the last 10 years in the US, most in the Northeast and Great Lakes regions. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences reports there have been 16 cases of Powassan virus infection in Massachusetts in the last 10 years. There’s evidence that cases are rising, but it is not clear what is causing the resurgence of POW. Transmission (spread of the disease) can happen when ticks are active. Young ticks are usually active in warm weather between May and August. While adult ticks are active in spring and fall, they can appear any time the winter temperatures are above freezing.

Early disease symptoms include:
- headache, vomiting, and weakness. 

Disease progression (severe disease) causes:
- inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) or of the membranes around the brain and spinal cord (meningitis)
- Symptoms include confusion, loss of coordination, difficulty speaking, and seizures

There is no vaccine for prevention or medicine for specific treatment of the Powassan virus. Treatment consists of supportive care, rest, and fluids to prevent dehydration. 

While outdoors:
- Avoid brushy, wooded, or grassy areas while outdoors.
- Use a repellant containing DEET.
- Wear long, light-colored pants tucked into socks or boots with a long-sleeved shirt.
- When walking or hiking, keep on designated trails, avoiding the edge habitat where ticks are likely to be.
- Perform thorough inspection for ticks after being outdoors.
- Showering immediately after potential tick exposure may help remove unattached ticks.
- Ask your vet for tick control production/options for your pets.

CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/powassan/about/index.html
Mass.gov: https://www.mass.gov/topics/health-social-services
NIH STAT Pearls: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK570599/

Other Tick Prevention Resources:

CDC | Don't Let Ticks Make You Sick - Info and Crossword Puzzle
CDC | Don't Let Ticks Make You Sick - Kids Comic Strip
CDC | Prevent Tick Bites


How to Prevent Mosquito Bites
Mosquitoes can spread diseases like EEE (Eastern Equine Encephalitis) and WNV (West Nile Virus).

The following are suggestions to prepare for mosquito season:

  • Remove standing water in and around your house to prevent mosquito breeding
  • Prevent mosquitoes from entering your home by repairing any broken window or door screens
  • Use insect-repellant that is EPA-registered
  • Wear long-sleeved  shirts and long pants that are tucked into socks when possible to help keep mosquitos away from your skin

Other Mosquito Prevention Resources 
MDPH | Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) - English Fact Sheet
MDPH | Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) - Spanish Fact Sheet

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health updates regularly risk level changes about arbovirus. 
Arbovirus is transmitted when you are bitten by mosquitos, ticks, or sandflies that are infected with the virus. 
Please visit the link below for more information: