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Fight the Bite

Stop Mosquito & Tick Bites

Prevent serious diseases like West Nile, Zika, and Lyme as well as many others.

Prevention Tips:

  • Protect yourself all day, every day! Bugs bite during the day and at night.
  • Use insect repellent. It works! Use an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered insect repellent. Always follow the instructions on the product label and reapply as directed.
  • Wear protective clothing. Wear light colored, long sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Protect your home. Remove standing water around you home. Common items that collect water are: old tires, planters, baby pools, bird baths. Use screens on windows and doors.

View additional information and tips below.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted to humans primarily through the bites of infected blacklegged ticks commonly referred to as deer ticks. It is the fastest growing vector-borne infectious disease in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC recently raised the number of estimated new cases of Lyme disease each year from 30,000 to 300,000. Some experts say the figure is far higher.

Over the last five years PA ranked first for reported cases in the U.S.A. The PA Department of Health reports that there were 5758 confirmed and probable cases of Lyme in 2013 with 7,400 cases, a 25% increase, in 2014.

Lyme disease is transmitted mostly by the nymphal deer tick. At this stage, the ticks are the size of a period at the end of a sentence. Many people are not aware when they’ve been bitten by a tick.

Size comparison graphic of ticks

Initial symptoms may occur within a day or a week, and often people think they just have a flu or virus. Symptoms include fever, headache, general achiness, swollen glands, fatigue and a possible rash. But some patients may present with only neurological symptoms.

Over 150 common Lyme symptoms are also symptoms of other diseases. It takes a skilled medical practitioner to recognize the patterns of what may seem like unrelated symptoms to make a diagnosis of Lyme disease.

Children and youth are the most likely victims of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. Their initial symptoms may go unrecognized and may be considered normal childhood illnesses, allowing the disease to progress undiagnosed and untreated. By the time it is clear there is something wrong, the presenting symptoms are often neuro-cognitive, usually showing up with behavior changes, changes in performance at school, and psychiatric issues. Many children are misdiagnosed with ADD/ADHD, learning disabilities, behavioral issues or psychiatric diagnosis such as oppositional-defiant disorder, anxiety, depression and even Autistic Spectrum-like disorders.

Preventing ticks from attaching to you is the best defense against Lyme disease.

  • Wear light-colored clothing so that ticks are more visible, tuck slacks into socks, and use repellents labeled for use with ticks.
  • Some natural repellents (neem, eucalyptus, lemongrass, camphor, cedar oil) may have benefit.
  • Clothing treated with Permethrin is effective.
  • Spraying your shoes and socks provides high reduction in tick attachments.

After your outdoor trek, remove clothing in garage or shed and shower when coming indoors. Put clothes in dryer for 1 hour at high heat. Check children, pets and yourself. Ask vet for repellents to repel/kill ticks on your pet. It is important that you remove ticks immediately, and less than 24 hours after being outdoors.

Because deer and other wildlife that carry ticks have become prevalent in residential areas, it is important to minimize desirable tick habitats in your yard by raking leaves, removing pools of standing water, cutting grass regularly, trimming edges around fences, buildings, sidewalks, controlling weeds, removing dead plant material, twigs and branches. Treating shrubs, flowers and any landscape plantings with an approved pesticide may help.

For a wealth of information on Lyme disease and ticks, please visit the PA Lyme Resource Network.

West Nile Virus

The Culex pipiens is found in Pennsylvania and responsible for the majority of West Nile Virus transmissions. These mosquitos are most active at dusk and dawn.

  • Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to humans and other animals.
  • The incubation period is usually 2 to 6 days but ranges from 2 to 14 days. This period can be longer in people with certain medical conditions that affect the immune system.
  • There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent West Nile virus infection.
  • Most people (70-80%) who become infected with West Nile virus do not develop any symptoms.
  • About 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Most people with this type of West Nile virus disease recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months.
  • Less than 1% of people who are infected will develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis. The symptoms of neurologic illness can include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures, or paralysis.
  • Serious illness can occur in people of any age, but people over 60 years of age and those that are immunocompromised are at a higher risk.

Zika Virus

The Aedes species is responsible for carrying and transmitting the Zika Virus. These mosquitos are aggressive, fly low to the ground and bite mostly during the daytime. These mosquitos also prefer to feed on humans. The Aedes aegypti is the primary vector for Zika, but is not found in the Lehigh Valley. The Aedes albopictus or Asian tiger mosquito is established in some areas of Pennsylvania, but its population is small.

  • Anyone who lives in or travels to an area where Zika virus is found and has not already been infected with Zika virus can get it from mosquito bites. Visit the Centers for Disease Control website for current travel advisories.
  • Local transmission of Zika virus (virus acquired from local mosquitoes) has not been identified in Pennsylvania.  However, local transmission of Zika has been identified in within certain areas of the United States.
  • A vaccine or treatment for Zika virus infection is not currently available.
  • The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes) However, the majority of people do not exhibit any symptoms.
  • Symptoms can last for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
  • People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. However, there have been rare reports of Guillain-Barré Syndrome and other neurological conditions.
  • Zika virus can be spread by a man to his sex partners. The virus can be spread before symptoms start and after symptoms resolve.
  • Zika can be passed through sex from a person who has Zika to his or her sex partners.  Condoms can reduce the chance of getting Zika from sex. Condoms include male and female condoms.  The virus is present in semen longer than in blood.
  • Zika virus infection during pregnancy has been linked to serious birth defects. A woman with Zika virus infection can pass Zika virus to her fetus during pregnancy or near the time of delivery.
  • Men and women should wait at least 6 months after symptoms start or from the time of last possible exposure to the virus before attempting pregnancy.
  • There are no reports of infants getting Zika virus through breastfeeding to date.
  • If you have Zika virus, follow official guidelines on deferring blood donations.
  • Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections.


The City coordinates with the Lehigh County Cooperative Extension’s West Nile Virus Program to address mosquitos and the areas where they breed in the City of Allentown. These activities include monitoring mosquito populations and mosquito-related illnesses, responding to mosquito breeding site complaints, treating and eliminating breeding sites, and educating the public on the risks and precautions that should be taken.

The community as a whole can help decrease the risk of mosquito borne disease transmission by reducing the number of breeding sites, using Environmental Protection Agency registered repellents, repairing screens and doors to fit tight, limiting outdoor activities to periods of time when mosquitos are less active and dressing appropriately.

Reduce the number of breeding sites

  • Remove old tires, cans, buckets, pots, and similar items that can trap rainwater.
  • Position tarps and boat covers to allow rain runoff and limit water pooling
  • Potted plants with water-capture bases should be drained or screens should be applied to the overflow vents.
  • Turn plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows upside-down when not in use.
  • Change birdbath water at least once a week.
  • Keep swimming pools chlorinated and stock ornamental ponds with surface-feeding minnows.
  • Rain gutters should be installed with sufficient slope to prevent the pooling of water; remove leaves and other obstructions from downspouts.
  • Remove trash and litter.

Protect your family from getting mosquito bites


  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and closed toed shoes
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency registered repellent with one of the following: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol. EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breast-feeding women. 
  • Treat clothing and gear with permethrin (but do not apply to skin).
  • Use and reapply insect repellent as directed.

For Travelers



  • Follow the CDC guidelines on Mosquito Bite Prevention for Travelers
  • If you have Zika or have recently traveled to an area with Zika
  • Even if you do not feel sick, travelers returning to the United States from an area with Zika should take steps to prevent mosquito bites for 3 weeks so they do not spread Zika to mosquitoes that could spread the virus to other people.
  • During the first week of infection, Zika virus can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to another mosquito through mosquito bites. An infected mosquito can then spread the virus to other people.
  • To help prevent spreading Zika from sex, you can use condoms correctly every time you have sex. This includes vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Not having sex is the only way to be sure that someone does not get sexually transmitted Zika virus.

More information on mosquitos and mosquito borne illnesses can be found on the Centers for Disease Control website. The Lehigh County Cooperative Extension’s West Nile Virus Program office is a good source of information - call (610) 366-8345. You can also contact the Allentown Health Bureau at (610) 437-7599.