Ritchie’s EEE Forum Aims Towards Coordinated Game Plan for Next Year

Local and state officials gather in Oswego this morning for a forum on finding better ways to combat Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

State Senator Patty Ritchie (R-Oswegatchie) organized the discussion after this summer’s large-scale outbreak of the disease claimed the life of a 4 year old girl from New Haven.

“I don’t want any other family to have to go through what Maggie Wilcox’s family has gone through,” Ritchie said in a September interview.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis is a potentially deadly disease carried by mosquitoes to horses and humans in the mosquito’s blood-sucking bite. Only a handful of people have died in America in the last decade from EEE, but most of those deaths have been in Central New York. For those few people who come down with the disease, death is very likely as there is no cure. Those who survive usually are left with profound brain damage.

The roundtable discussion will feature state and local officials involved in fighting EEE, along with an expert on animal diseases from Cornell University.

It takes place at 11:00 a.m. at the Oswego City School District Office, 120 East First Street.

Ritchie said that this year’s outbreak showed that the threat crossed county lines. EEE was found as far north at St. Lawrence County this year, with a higher-than-usual number of EEE findings in mosquitoes in Oswego, Onondaga, Madison and Oneida counties.

“The state should be more involved now that it crosses county lines,” Ritchie said. She did not criticize counties for the way each handled the issue but said that because the problem is larger than any one county, coordinated work with state officials should be part of the effort.

She hopes to come out of the meeting on a path towards “an organized plan for next year so we’re not in the same situation.”

“Should this issue appear next year,” she said, “we will have a more global approach, more proactive and we’re ready to go.”