OSWEGO – The Oswego County Health Department is working with health officials from the New York State Department of Health and Onondaga, Oneida and Madison counties to raise awareness about mosquito-borne diseases such as Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile Virus (WNV).
These viral infections are transmitted by mosquitoes and can affect birds, horses and people.
“Although it is rare in humans, EEE can cause serious illness such as severe headache, high fever, disorientation, seizures, brain swelling or, in some cases, death,” said Dr. Dennis Norfleet, public health director for the Oswego County Health Department. “The best defense we have against these diseases is to protect ourselves from mosquito bites.”
Representatives from several local newspaper, radio and television outlets recently gathered to learn more about the EEE virus and personal protection measures during a “Fight the Bite” media event.
Participants also found out about the different stages of mosquito surveillance programs, such as trapping, tracking and testing.
Other discussions included horse health and EEE vaccinations, and the decision-making process behind aerial spraying, as well as its benefits and effectiveness.
In Oswego County, public health educators continue to raise awareness among residents. Over the past several weeks, they have met with groups to provide information about mosquito-borne diseases and the precautions people can take to protect themselves from mosquito bites.
The groups included Head Start families in Fulton and Phoenix; the Step-by-Step Clubhouse in Fulton; and 13 Girl Scout leaders from Fulton. Other presentations are planned for Girl Scout leaders in Pulaski and Mexico as well as childcare providers.
“Fight the Bite” fliers and wallet and rack cards with information about EEE and personal protection measures have been distributed at various locations around the county.
These materials have been sent to the superintendents and nurses in each school district, as well as Head Start and Discovery Daycare programs. Other recipients include public libraries, county legislators and local municipal offices; and several health centers and pharmacies.
Cards and fliers have also been supplied to grocery stores, family shopping centers, and home and garden centers in the Oswego, Fulton and Central Square areas. In addition, cards will be distributed to many public pools, campgrounds, and tackle shops.
Organizations such as the Oswego YMCA, Oswego City-County Youth Bureau, Camp Hollis, AmeriCorps, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and the Cornell Cooperative Extension 4-H program have all received a supply of cards and fliers to share with their members.
The Child Care Council posted the ‘Fight the Bite’ flier in their recent newsletter.
Information has also been distributed to the students and staff of the Cayuga Community College as well as the Oswego County Office for the Aging and several Senior Nutrition Centers, including meal sites and home deliveries.
In preparation for the upcoming summer mosquito season, the health department reminds people to protect against mosquito bites by taking the following precautions:
Use insect repellent properly. Read the product label and use 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.
In addition, people can follow these protection 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.
During the week of May 28, the health department begins its full-scale mosquito surveillance program. The health department has expanded the mosquito surveillance area and doubled the number of trap sites, as compared to last year.
For more information about protecting your family against mosquitoes, call the Oswego County Health Department at 315-349-3547 or 1-800-596-3200, ext. 3547, or visit the New York State Department of Health Web site at www.health.state.ny.us.