Ritchie Announces Free Mosquito Treatments For Homeowners

VOLNEY, NY – State senators Patty Ritchie, David Valesky, John DeFrancisco and Joseph Griffo and Assemblyman Will Barclay today (July 10) joined with county and local health officials around CNY to announce the availability to homeowners of free mosquito treatments to help stop the spread of the deadly EEE virus.

Senator Patty Ritchie holds a package of the larvicide treatments which act to kill mosquitoes before they develop to their biting stage. Looking on is Chairman of the Oswego County Legislature Fred Beardsley.
Senator Patty Ritchie holds a package of the larvicide treatments which act to kill mosquitoes before they develop to their biting stage. Looking on is Chairman of the Oswego County Legislature Fred Beardsley.

Senator Ritchie visited the Oswego County Soil & Water Office on Route 3 in Volney to make the announcement. She was joined by Legislator Fred Beardsley, chairman of the legislature; Inga Back, acting public health director of the Oswego County Health Department; and John DeHollander, manager of the Oswego County Soil and Water Conservation District.

The free treatments, packets of a regionally produced (in Oriskany) larvicide that can be used to treat standing water, including small pools, bird baths and ornamental ponds, are being made available to homeowners through a partnership with the Soil and Water Conservation Districts in Jefferson, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego and St. Lawrence counties.

The treatments are funded with a state grant obtained by Senator Ritchie.

The funding will provide anti-mosquito treatment for 2,736 homeowners across the six counties and represents the third leg in a plan to beef up the state and local response to EEE, which also includes better coordination among officials in affected counties, and increased state funding for education and prevention, in the wake of last summer’s death of 4-year-old Maggie Sue Wilcox, the fifth New Yorker to die from EEE.

Donna Wilcox, Maggie Sue’s aunt, who has worked tirelessly to raise public awareness of the disease.

She was unable to attend this morning’s announcement.

“Everyone needs to take steps to prevent the spread of EEE and our family believes that starts with education, and action to eliminate mosquitoes that spread the disease,” she said in a prepared statement released by the senator’s office. “Now, every day people are making a difference in helping to stop EEE, and possibly save lives.”

Senator Ritchie said was touched by the family’s courage continuing “to educate and advocate so that others won’t have to go through the same tragedy that their family had to go through last year.”

“Oswego County has been at the forefront of EEE education and prevention, and this new program is another way to highlight how the state and county are working together to fight EEE,” Assemblyman Will Barclay said in the same prepared statement.

“For the last 11 months, I have worked with the Wilcox family, the county and also the department of health trying to prevent another tragedy like what happened in Oswego County last year,” the senator said. “We have actually changed the way the state responds and the county responds to the virus. We are raising awareness and we are taking steps to help make sure that people know how to best protect themselves.”

The triple E virus is a state priority, she added.

“We are taking one more step today in that cause,” she said. “The best way to help make sure that we stop the triple E virus is to minimize the exposures.”

Use of larvicides was identified in Senator Ritchie’s special EEE Roundtable of health experts last fall in Oswego as one more way to help stop the spread of EEE by reducing the number of mosquitoes that could become carriers of the disease.

“Working together, we’re making EEE prevention a priority of state and county governments, and taking steps to teach individuals and families to protect themselves, so we can save lives,” said Senator Ritchie. “This program is another step in helping to educate the public about the danger, while also helping to reduce the risk of this deadly disease. This is not the final answer. We won’t rest until we actually come up with a cure for triple E.”

“Farmers and homeowners can use this product to treat their own property, and help stop mosquitoes that may carry the EEE virus,” said DeHollander. “I wish to thank Senator Ritchie for her leadership, and the attention she has paid to a very serious problem in Oswego County.”

“This effort is an important part of our work to educate and inform the public about the dangers of EEE, and steps that people can take to protect themselves,” said Back. “The Oswego County Health Department is proud to team with Senator Ritchie and Oswego County SWCD on this public health awareness effort.”

The larvicide treatments act to kill mosquitoes before they develop to their biting stage.

Homeowners are strongly advised to read the label directions, which can be found at the following link, before use: http://www.scribd.com/doc/99210051.

Homeowners are eligible to receive one free packet of larvicide treatment. It is available on a first-come, first-served basis through Soil and Water Conservation District offices in the affected counties.

In Oswego County, those interested in obtaining a packet should go to the Oswego County Soil and Water Conservation District, 3105 State Route 3, Fulton, NY (592-9663).

“We will have them available during regular hours (7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.). We were talking about having maybe one evening during the week during off hours so the people who work during the day can get a packet,” DeHollander said. “We’ll see how things go during the business hours. Basically, just read the directions on the package and follow those directions.”

“Any efforts to reduce the mosquito population are welcomed,” Back said. “We like to say, from a public health standpoint, that people really need to use their public health measures and those include avoiding misguitoes at duck and dawn, if you have to out during times when mosquitoes are around wear long clothing, use mosquito repellant and also to eliminate any type of breeding grounds that might be in their home or on their property.”

The county is doing more than one thing to retard the spread of mosquitoes, she added.

They have begun a capture and mark program to study where the pests come from and where they go. They have also increased their surveillance sites all around the county, and is doing a lot of public health education among other programs, she said.

“The county can only do so much,” she pointed out. “People really need to take these particular diseases into their own hands in order to protect themselves and their loved ones. That’s why those personal protective measures are really critical.”

Chairman Beardsley agreed the public should take an active role in protecting themselves and added it is important for the counties to continue to work together.

“This isn’t just an Oswego County problem or an Onondaga or Oneida County problem,” he told Oswego County Today. “But, if we had to, I think we still could protect ourselves (on our own). Working together is the best thing we can do. It’s a battle that we know we can’t actually win – ever. We just have to keep winning the battles as best we can to ensure public safety. Today is a big step in that direction.”

EEE is a mosquito-borne virus that affects horses and other livestock, and rarely occurs in humans.  Five human deaths in New York since 1971 all have occurred in Oswego and Onondaga counties, while dozens of horses have succumbed in the six counties included in the larvicide program.

Tips on protecting yourself from EEE are available at:

The larvicide program is part of a broader effort by Senator Ritchie to educate the public and help prevent EEE; and hopefully, she added, come up with a vaccine.

Other steps have included:

  • Securing $150,000 in state budget funds for mosquito eradication and EEE prevention in impacted Central and Northern New York counties;
  • Increased funding for mosquito control through aerial spraying;
  • A statewide horse vaccination program that’s reaching more than 1,000 horse owners and veterinarians across the state;
  • An EEE Roundtable that included experts and public health officials from Oswego County and across Central New York to find better ways of attacking the disease;
  • Sponsoring bipartisan legislation to direct efforts of state health officials toward finding a human vaccine for EEE;
  • Expanded public outreach in partnership with Oswego County and nine local school districts to educate families about the dangers of EEE;
  • Encouraging better coordination and cooperation among the state and locally impacted communities to address EEE as a regional, rather than a local problem.

The larvicides packets are also available at:

Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation District
21168 State Route 232
Watertown, New York 13601

Madison County Soil and Water Conservation District
USDA Service Center
6503 Wes Road
Hamilton, New York 13346

Oneida County Soil and Water Conservation District
USDA Service center
121 Second Street, Room E
Oriskany, New York

Onondaga County Soil and Water Conservation District
6680 Onondaga Lake Parkway
Liverpool, New York 13088

St. Lawrence County Soil and Water Conservation District
1942 Old DeKalb Road
Canton, New York 13617