By Senator Patty Ritchie
Just over a year ago the unthinkable happened.
It was then that 4 year-old Maggie Sue Wilcox of Oswego County died of a mosquito-borne illness known as Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or EEE.
EEE is a deadly disease, that is almost always fatal in horses. It rarely affects humans.
Since that time, I have worked to help stop the spread of EEE and prevent any other tragedies like the one that affected the Wilcox family from occurring in the future.
But, fighting EEE isn’t something I can do alone. I need your help.
Now, more than ever, it’s important that we take precautions when it comes to protecting ourselves from mosquitoes.
In addition to the threat posed by EEE, just last week, health officials in Oswego County announced that the New York State Department of Health discovered evidence of West Nile virus in the village of Central Square.
While there are no new known human cases of West Nile, it’s still crucial that steps are taken to ensure our safety.
Recently, I announced that free anti-mosquito treatments are available to farmers and homeowners.
The free treatments, packets of locally produced larvicide can be used to treat standing water, including small pools, bird baths and ornamental ponds, are being made available through a partnership with the Soil and Water Conservation Districts in Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties.
This program, which was funded with a state grant, will provide anti-mosquito treatment for nearly 3,000 property owners in the affected counties.
For information on where you can pick up your free treatment, visit my website, www.ritchie.nysenate.gov
But, our work doesn’t stop there.
Recently, with the help of local veterinarians I hosted two no-cost vaccination clinics for horse owners in Oswego and St. Lawrence counties.
Last summer, the lives of at least 11 horses in Central and Northern New York were lost to EEE.
As a result of the no-cost vaccination clinics, more than 200 horses received protection from EEE.
If you’d like to protect your horses, contact your veterinarian; reduced-cost vaccines are still available.
Although we have made significant progress in our fight against EEE, there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.
You can help ‘Fight the Bite’ by picking up your free anti-mosquito treatment today, and by safeguarding yourself and your loved ones by take simple steps to protect yourself from mosquitoes, such as wearing long sleeved clothing and pants, making sure windows and doors in your home are adequately screened and sealed, emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets or barrels, changing water in birdbaths regularly and of course, applying bug spray when outdoors.
You can find more information about this deadly disease by reading my EEE fact sheet, available at the following link: