Popular Pages

Pest Control

Click on the links below to learn more about:


In an effort to combat the mosquito population, Environmental Health’s Mosquito Prevention Program provides mosquito dunks free to Cumberland County residents during mosquito season.

Chikungunya Virus (CHIKV)

This virus can be carried by mosquitoes and cause illness in people.

West Nile virus (WNV)

This is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause a serious, life-altering disease that is potentially fatal. People get WNV through the bite of an infected mosquito.

Zika Virus

Return to top


Avoid Direct Contact with Ticks

  • Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
  • Walk in the center of trails.

Repel Ticks on Skin and Clothing

  • Use repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin for protection that lasts several hours.
  • Always follow product instructions. Parents should apply this product to their children, avoiding hands, eyes, and mouth.
  • Use products that contain permethrin on clothing. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents with products containing 0.5% permethrin. It remains protective through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is available and may be protective longer.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has an online tool to help you select the repellent that is best for you and your family.

Find and Remove Ticks from Your Body

  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.
  • Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas. Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair.
  • Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and day packs.
  • Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors.
    • If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed.
    • If the clothes require washing first, hot water is recommended. Cold and medium temperature water will not kill ticks effectively. If the clothes cannot be washed in hot water, tumble dry on low heat for 90 minutes or high heat for 60 minutes. The clothes should be warm and completely dry.

How to remove a tick

  1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible.
  2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
  3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
  4. Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.

Return to top


Flea bites are miserable to some persons, while other people are not much disturbed by them. The development of sensitivity to flea bites requires an initial sensitization by the insect. Thus, a latent period occurs between the time of first exposure and the time when subsequent flea bites elicit skin reactions (Benjamini, Feingold, and Kartman, 1960).

In people who have been bitten by fleas, reactions vary from small red spots (where the mouthparts of the flea have penetrated the skin) surrounded by a slight swelling and reddish discoloration to a very severe generalized rash.

Relief from the irritation of a bite may be obtained by treatment with carbolated vaseline, menthol, camphor, calamine lotion, or other soothing medication.

Although most fleas have a preferred host, many of them are known to take a blood meal from a wide variety of animals and will bite man readily in the absence of their normal host animal. The cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) and the dog flea (Ctenocephalides canis), two of the most common species, may be very annoying to man. The adult fleas feed and mate on these pets. The female fleas lay their eggs among the hairs of these animals and the eggs drop off onto the mat or rug where the pets sleep or rest, onto carpets or overstuffed furniture, cellar floors, and similar places.

Larval development usually requires at least two to three weeks and the newly emerged fleas simply hop onto cats or dogs as they walk about. However, if people leave their homes and take their pets VII - 1 with them, or "board" their cats and dogs at an animal hospital for two to four weeks or longer, enormous numbers of adult fleas may come through to maturity in a vacant house or apartment. These fleas have had no opportunity for a blood meal. When such people return to their homes, they are greeted by hundreds or thousands of hungry fleas and may suffer excruciating pain.

In the summer, cat and dog fleas will breed outdoors in vacant lots, under houses, in barns, and similar situations, particularly if there are stray dogs or cats about.

The human flea (Pulex irritans) occasionally becomes abundant on farms, particularly in abandoned pig pens.

Many people are bitten by tiny, dark, wingless insects popularly known as "sand fleas." In the North "sand fleas" usually are cat or dog fleas associated with stray cats or dogs in vacant lots.

In the West "sand fleas" may be human fleas associated with ground squirrels or prairie dogs.

In the South "sand fleas" sometimes are sticktight fleas, but more commonly are cat or dog fleas. Along the beaches, tiny crustaceans belonging to the Order Amphipoda occurring abundantly in sea weed are often called "sand fleas", "sand hoppers", and "beach fleas."

The oriental rat flea (Xenopsylla cheopis) and the northern rat flea (Nosopsyllus fasciatus) normally spend most of their adult life on Norway and roof rats. However, when these rodents are killed, these fleas leave their rodent hosts and bite man readily.

The western hen flea (Ceratophyllus niger) and the European hen flea (Ceratophy1lus gallinae) occasionally become extremely abundant in chicken houses, occupied or vacant, and attack man in large numbers.

On occasion other fleas, such as the squirrel flea (Orchopeas howardii) leaving the nests of their rodent host in attics or hollow trees, may bite man and cause great discomfort.

Most people are familiar with the irritations and allergic reactions due to flea bites and welcome the assistance of public health workers in controlling these insects. Identification of the species of flea involved, its habits and preferred hosts will assist people in locating the source of the infestation and preventing these attacks.

Return to top

Bed Bugs

What are bed bugs?

Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are small, flat, parasitic insects that feed solely on the blood of people and animals while they sleep. Bed bugs are reddish-brown in color, wingless, range from 1mm to 7mm (roughly the size of Lincoln’s head on a penny), and can live several months without a blood meal.

Where are bed bugs found?

Bed bugs are found across the globe from North and South America, to Africa, Asia and Europe. Although the presence of bed bugs has traditionally been seen as a problem in developing countries, it has recently been spreading rapidly in parts of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other parts of Europe. Bed bugs have been found in five-star hotels and resorts and their presence is not determined by the cleanliness of the living conditions where they are found.

Bed bug infestations usually occur around or near the areas where people sleep. These areas include apartments, shelters, rooming houses, hotels, cruise ships, buses, trains, and dorm rooms. They hide during the day in places such as seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, inside cracks or crevices, behind wallpaper, or any other clutter or objects around a bed. Bed bugs have been shown to be able to travel over 100 feet in a night but tend to live within 8 feet of where people sleep.

Do bed bugs spread disease?

Bed bugs are not known to spread disease. Bed bugs can be an annoyance because their presence may cause itching and loss of sleep. Sometimes the itching can lead to excessive scratching that can sometimes increase the chance of a secondary skin infection.

What health risks do bed bugs pose?

A bed bug bite affects each person differently. Bite responses can range from an absence of any physical signs of the bite, to a small bite mark, to a serious allergic reaction. Bed bugs are not considered to be dangerous; however, an allergic reaction to several bites may need medical attention.

What are the signs and symptoms of a bed bug infestation?

One of the easiest ways to identify a bed bug infestation is by the tell-tale bite marks on the face, neck, arms, hands, or any other body parts while sleeping. However, these bite marks may take as long as 14 days to develop in some people so it is important to look for other clues when determining if bed bugs have infested an area. These signs include:

  • The bed bugs’ exoskeletons after molting,
  • Bed bugs in the fold of mattresses and sheets,
  • Rusty–colored blood spots due to their blood-filled fecal material that they excrete on the mattress or nearby furniture, and
  • A sweet musty odor.

How do I know if I’ve been bitten by a bed bug?

It is hard to tell if you’ve been bitten by a bed bug unless you find bed bugs or signs of infestation. When bed bugs bite, they inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant that prevents a person from realizing they are being bitten. Most people do not realize they have been bitten until bite marks appear anywhere from one to several days after the initial bite. The bite marks are similar to that of a mosquito or a flea -- a slightly swollen and red area that may itch and be irritating. The bite marks may be random or appear in a straight line. Other symptoms of bed bug bites include insomnia, anxiety, and skin problems that arise from profuse scratching of the bites.

Because bed bug bites affect everyone differently, some people may have no reaction and will not develop bite marks or any other visible signs of being bitten. Other people may be allergic to the bed bugs and can react adversely to the bites. These allergic symptoms can include enlarged bite marks, painful swellings at the bite site, and, on rare occasions, anaphylaxis.

How did I get bed bugs?

Bed bugs are experts at hiding. Their slim flat bodies allow them to fit into the smallest of spaces and stay there for long periods of time, even without a blood meal. Bed bugs are usually transported from place to place as people travel. The bed bugs travel in the seams and folds of luggage, overnight bags, folded clothes, bedding, furniture, and anywhere else where they can hide. Most people do not realize they are transporting stow-away bed bugs as they travel from location to location, infecting areas as they travel.

Who is at risk for getting bed bugs?

Everyone is at risk for getting bed bugs when visiting an infected area. However, anyone who travels frequently and shares living and sleeping quarters where other people have previously slept has a higher risk of being bitten and or spreading a bed bug infestation.

How are bed bugs treated and prevented?

Bed bug bites usually do not pose a serious medical threat. The best way to treat a bite is to avoid scratching the area and apply antiseptic creams or lotions and take an antihistamine. Bed bug infestations are commonly treated by insecticide spraying. If you suspect that you have an infestation, contact your landlord or professional pest control company that is experienced with treating bed bugs. The best way to prevent bed bugs is regular inspection for the signs of an infestation.

Note: These materials have been acquired and redistributed from the CDC.

Return to top

Contact Us

1235 Ramsey Street
Fayetteville, NC 28301

Phone:  910-433-3600
Fax: 910-433-3659
Phone TTY: 910-223-9386

Director: Dr. Jennifer Green

Environmental Health

Phone: 910-433-3618
Food & Lodging
Phone: 910-433-3618
Onsite Wells & Wastewater
Phone: 910-433-3668
Inspection Grades

We need your help!

Please complete this food safety questionnaire:
Food Safety Survey