Used Tires and The West Nile Virus

Background

Used tires are a breeding source for mosquitoes, providing an ideal "incubator" for mosquito eggs and larvae. Adult mosquitoes lay eggs in improperly discarded tires filled with rainwater and organic materials (leaves and grass). Over the course of one breeding season, hundreds of mosquitoes can be generated from just one tire.

West Nile Virus

West Nile Virus is a viral disease primarily spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. This virus can cause encephalitis, a swelling of the brain. Mosquitoes first become infected when they feed on birds that carry the virus. Once the mosquito is infected, it can spread the virus to people or other animals when it bites them. The house mosquito, the primary carrier of West Nile virus, breeds in water-filled tires, roadside ditches and street catch basins. More than 4,000 cases of West Nile disease, with more than 260 deaths, were recorded in the U.S. for 2002. Illinois had the highest number of reported cases and deaths in the country. The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 62 fatalities and 877 non-fatal cases linked to the Illinois 2002 outbreak of West Nile Virus.

Preventing the West Nile Virus through Proper Used Tire Management

Proper management of used tires will help reduce the mosquito population in Illinois. These steps can help eliminate breeding grounds for mosquitoes:

  • Don't leave tires outside; keep them in a building.
  • If tires must be stored outdoors, cover them with a tarp, plywood, or other covering to keep rainwater out.
  • Dispose of used tires at an Illinois EPA registered used tire processing facility.
  • Report tires found in woods or grassy areas to the Illinois EPA Used Tire Unit.
  • If mosquito eggs or larvae are found in tires at any location, report to Illinois EPA's Used Tire Unit.
  • If your business accepts or stores used tires, protect your employees and customers from exposure -- properly manage the tires.

Reporting Improperly Discarded Tires to Illinois EPA

Since 1989, the Illinois EPA Used Tire Program has cleaned up over 10 million used tires that were improperly discarded in Illinois. To report improperly discarded tires, please refer to the contact information found on the back of this fact sheet.

Tire Program Contact Information

Todd Marvel, Manager
Tap Hefley or Greg Spencer, Used Tire Specialists
Used Tire Unit
217-785-8604

Please visit the Illinois Department of Public Health for additional information about the West Nile Virus.