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Prevention Tips

You can protect yourself from mosquito-borne diseases during the summer and fall by avoiding getting bitten by mosquitoes.

Your Home

Prevent mosquitoes from entering your home by making sure your window and door screens are in good repair and are tightly attached.

Your Yard

Mosquitoes lay their eggs in still water. Reduce mosquito breeding places in your yard by emptying, covering, or treating any items that hold water. More tips:

  • Empty or treat any items that hold water, such as flower pots, birdbaths, swimming pool covers, buckets, cans, and barrels.
  • Clean rain gutters, leaves in downspouts, and pooled water on flat roofs.
  • Remove unused tires and other items that could collect water.
  • Remove containers that may hold water in places that are hard to see, such as under bushes, porches, decks, or stairs.

When you can't get rid of stagnant water by sweeping or other methods (such as Mosquito Dunk, a product sold in hardware stores), please report the address or location of the puddle or still water source to the appropriate city department:

  • Private property: Cambridge Public Health Department, 617-665-3838
  • Public property: (roads, parks): Cambridge Department of Public Works, 617-349-4800
  • Construction sites: Cambridge Inspectional Services Department, 617-349-6100

Protect Yourself and Your Family

Mosquito species found in Cambridge are most active in the early evening and nighttime.

  • Consider wearing long-sleeve shirts, loose pants, and socks if you spend time outdoors during peak mosquito biting times.  
  • If you are outdoors during peak mosquito biting times, apply a thin coat of insect repellent containing DEET or Picaridin to clothing and exposed skin. Read the instructions on the label carefully before using the product.
  • When outdoors, cover your baby stroller or playpen with netting.

DEET and Repellents

Adults and children (age two months and older) should use repellant with 25% to 30% DEET. Repellents with DEET should never be used on children under two months of age. After returning indoors, wash off repellent with soap and water. If repellent is applied to clothing, wash the clothes before wearing again. 

Alternatives to DEET include Picaridin (a chemical repellent) and oil of lemon eucalyptus (a plant-based repellent).

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), insect repellents containing DEET or Picaridin work better than other products. Studies have shown that oil of lemon eucalyptus, also known as PMD, works as well as low concentrations of DEET.

Picaridin should not be used on children under two months old and oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under age 3.

When using repellent on a child, apply it to your own hands and then rub it on your child. Avoid your child's eyes and mouth, and use it sparingly around the ears. Remember to keep repellents out of reach of children.

More prevention information

West Nile Virus Prevention (CDC)
Insect Repellent Use and Safety (CDC)
Insect Repellent Fact Sheets (MA Dept. of Public Health)


For general questions about West Nile virus and eastern equine encephalitis, please call 617-665-3838. 


Prevention Tips for Cambridge Residents

This two-page fact sheet contains simple prevention tips (PDF) in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Haitian Creole.


Cambridge Public Health Department
119 Windsor Street
Cambridge, MA 02139
617-665-3826 (main)
617-665-3800 (main)
617-665-3888 (fax)
617-643-0744 (TTY)

Hours: Monday-Friday:
8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
After Hours

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Claude-Alix Jacob
Chief Public Health Officer



Cambirdge Health Alliance

Cambridge City
City of Cambridge