OSWEGO COUNTY – The Oswego County Health Department reported that the eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus has been found in a mosquito pool collected from the Town of Albion during the week of August 1. Mosquito pools in West Monroe’s Toad Harbor Big Bay Swamp; the townships of Palermo, Volney, and Hastings; and the village of Central Square have tested positive for the EEE virus in the last month.
“The virus continues to be active and has spread beyond the Oneida Lake area,” said Dr. Dennis Norfleet, Oswego County public health director. “Residents need to take the proper precautions to guard against contracting either the EEE virus or the West Nile virus, both of which are carried by mosquitoes.”
Dr. Norfleet continued, “Some of the best forms of protection include: staying away from areas where mosquitoes concentrate and limiting outside activity at dawn and dusk when the insect is most active.”
He also advises people to:
• Wear shoes, socks, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors for long periods of time and at dawn and dusk.
• Use mosquito repellent. Repellents containing DEET are the most effective, but should be used with caution and according to label instructions.
• Eliminate standing water on your property. Empty pails, swimming pool covers, flower pots and other containers around the home and yard to remove mosquito breeding grounds.
• Repair or replace broken screens in doors and windows.
Dr. Norfleet added, “People need to be particularly cautious against the virus now because, historically, more human cases of the EEE virus have presented themselves during the month of August.”
There are no plans to conduct spraying at this time due to somewhat lower mosquito populations and other factors. The department will continue to monitor the situation and, as new data presents itself, it will re-evaluate the need for mosquito control actions.
The mosquitoes were collected during routine sampling conducted by the Oswego County Health Department and the New York State Department of Health. The pools were collected and sent to the state health department’s Wadsworth Center Laboratories near Albany for testing.
Testing also confirmed that a horse in the town of Scriba died as a result of contracting the EEE virus. Symptoms of the disease vary greatly in horses and may include: loss of appetite, staggering, circling and leaning against the stall, blindness and unconsciousness.
In 50 to 90 percent of infected horses demonstrating visible signs of the EEE virus, the result if fatal. Veterinarians recommend that horses be vaccinated against the EEE virus to lower their chance of infection.
For more information about EEE and other viruses transmitted by mosquitoes, call the Oswego County Health Department at 315-349-3564 or 1-800-596-3200, ext.3564 between 8:30a.m. and 4 p.m. or visit the New York State Department of Health Web site at www.health.state.ny.us/diseases/communicable/eastern_equine_encephalitis/fact_sheet.htm