Health department advises New Yorkers to protect against mosquitoes and ticks

As people begin spending more time outdoors, the State Health Department is reminding New Yorkers to take precautions to prevent diseases that are transmitted by mosquitoes and ticks.

Mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus and ticks that can transmit Lyme disease can be found across the state. The highest risk for the eastern equine encephalitis virus is in Central New York.

Most cases of Lyme disease are contracted from the middle of May through July. That's when nymphal deer tick populations are present. The ticks are extremely small; usually about the size of a poppy seed. Their small size makes it easy for them to go undetected for long periods of time.

Human cases of mosquito-borne diseases are mostly reported in August in September. The health department says people should take precautions whenever they go outside.

Here are some tips to help prevent mosquito bites -

- Cover your skin as much as you can when you're outside. Wear long sleeves, pants and socks.

- Use insect repellant. Any repellant containing DEET, picardin or oil of lemon eucalyptus are recommended.

- Keep screens in all of your home's windows and doors. The screens should always be kept free of any rips, tears or holes.

- Don't keep standing water in your yard or around your home. Mosquitoes breed in standing water. If you have a bird bath, the water should be changed twice a week.