Evidence of West Nile Virus Found in West Monroe

OSWEGO – The Oswego County Health Department reports that West Nile virus was found in mosquitoes collected Aug. 7 near the Toad Harbor Swamp in West Monroe. The County was notified Aug. 20 by the New York State Department of Health of the positive mosquito sample.

“It is essential that people throughout Oswego County use insect repellents and continue to be proactive in protecting themselves and their families from mosquito bites,” said Jiancheng Huang, Public Health Director of the Oswego County Health Department. “In most people, West Nile virus causes no symptoms, but in some cases it can cause serious health problems and in rare instances can lead to death.”

The Oswego County Health Department collects samples of mosquitoes for several weeks during the summer to look for evidence of West Nile and Eastern equine encephalitis viruses. The EEE virus, which claimed the life of an Oswego County girl last year, has not been detected at this time.

Samples of mosquitoes collected earlier this summer in New Haven and Central Square tested positive for West Nile virus, and an Oswego child has recovered from the virus. West Nile virus activity has also been detected in Onondaga County and areas of western and southern New York State.

Huang said the mosquito population in Oswego County is much lower than usual this summer. Other areas of New York State are also seeing historically low numbers of mosquitoes due to the unusually dry summer. Based on the low mosquito population and other scientific evidence, Oswego County does not plan to conduct aerial spraying at this time.

People in Oswego County should take the following actions to protect themselves from mosquito bites:

Use insect repellent properly. Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus are the most effective and should be used according to package instructions.
Whenever possible, limit outdoor activities in areas where mosquitoes are most active and between dusk and dawn which is the peak mosquito-biting time.
As weather permits, wear protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts, long pants, shoes and socks.
Many mosquitoes that can transmit West Nile Virus lay their eggs in stagnant water around the home.  Mosquitoes can breed in any stagnant water that lasts more than four days.

People should follow these protective measures to minimize mosquito populations in and around their homes and properties:

Install or repair all door and window screens.
Reduce or eliminate all standing water from old tires, pails, recycling containers, flower pots, wheelbarrows, wading pools and pool covers.
Change the water in birdbaths and horse troughs twice a week.

For more information on West Nile virus, call the Oswego County Health Department weekdays at 315-349-3547 or visit the New York State Department of Health’s web site at http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/west_nile_virus/fact_sheet.htm