Skip to main content

Prevention is the Best Protection against Mosquito Borne Disease

Published: 8/16/2018

Poughkeepsie... As summer starts to wind down, mosquito activity tends to increase. While most mosquito bites are no more than an itchy annoyance, the bite of a mosquito can sometimes spread viruses that cause disease.  West Nile Virus (WNV) activity has been detected in mosquito pools in the region. To date in 2018, New York has had one case of WNV diagnosed in a person from New York City.  

“Mosquitoes can spread a number of different diseases to people. In our area, the biggest concern is West Nile Virus.” said A. K. Vaidian, MD, MPH, Department of Behavioral & Community Health Commissioner. “Most people infected with West Nile Virus or other mosquito borne viruses may have such mild symptoms that they are not even aware they were infected. Sometimes mosquito-borne viruses can cause severe disease, or even death, so it is wise to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites.”

Dr. Vaidian added that preventing bites is the best way to prevent mosquito borne disease.  He recommends individuals take the following protective measures when mosquito activity is present:

Insect Repellent – Always keep an EPA-registered repellent with you.  EPA registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breast feeding women. Products containing the active ingredient DEET, picaridin or IR3535 work well against mosquitoes and ticks. Always follow label instructions on how to apply, and pay particular attention to recommendations for use on children.  Visit to use the EPA’s insect repellent search tool.

Clothing – Wear long pants and a long sleeved shirt to create a barrier between your skin and mosquitoes. You can get added protection by wearing clothing treated with the permethrin. You can buy permethrin spray and treat clothing and gear yourself, or purchase items pre-treated. Permethrin-treated fabric will offer protection from mosquitoes and ticks through multiple washings.  

Keep Mosquitoes Out – Make sure all window and door screens are in good condition. Cover cribs, strollers and baby carriers with mosquito netting, especially when mosquitoes are active.

Know the Symptoms - Symptoms can be similar for both tick-borne and mosquito-borne illness, and can include fatigue, fever, headache, stiff neck, muscle and joint aches, or a rash. If you develop these symptoms, do not delay seeking medical care.

Eliminate Breeding Grounds - Both ticks and mosquitoes thrive in moist and wet environments. Mow your grass short to lower moisture; clear brush and rake often to reduce leaf litter; discard or frequently drain and scrub containers that hold water such as flower pots, pet dishes, bird baths, discarded tires, and wading pools to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.

Mosquito dunks, available at local hardware stores, can be used to kill mosquito larvae in containers of standing, stagnant water that cannot be emptied, such as rain barrels. Dutchess County has a limited quantity of free mosquito dunks available by contacting the Department of Behavioral & Community Health at (845) 486-3404.

“When you travel to other areas, you may encounter mosquitoes that may carry different diseases than those in Dutchess County,” said Vaidian. “As part of your trip preparation, check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Travelers’ Health website at to learn if there is risk for diseases like malaria, chickungunya, or Zika at your destination.” Dr. Vaidian noted with Zika virus activity still present in many countries, the CDC advises against traveling to these areas for pregnant women. 

For more information on how to protect yourself and your loved ones against mosquito-borne diseases, visit