Oswego County Public Information Office, 46 East Bridge St., Oswego, NY 13126

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May 5, 2004

Take Steps Now to Control Mosquitoes and West Nile Virus

Now that spring has arrived in Oswego County, the black flies are out and the mosquitoes will soon follow. Since 1999, when it was first found in New York State, West Nile virus has been a concern when warm weather approaches.

"West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne infection that can cause encephalitis and serious health problems. While the chances of a person getting encephalitis are small, people ages 50 and older are at higher risk than other residents," said Kathleen Smith, Commissioner of the Oswego County Health Department.

There are about 70 species of mosquitoes in New York State. Only a handful of them can transmit West Nile virus. Mosquitoes are most often active around dusk and dawn when the air is calm, but some species will bite during the daytime.

Because West Nile virus is spread by mosquitoes, it is important that everyone to take steps to avoid mosquito bites. You can help to reduce your risk of mosquito bites if you:

  • Wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when you are outdoors for long periods of time.
  • Use a mosquito repellent when it is necessary to be outdoors at times when mosquitoes are most active. Be sure to follow the directions on the label. Do not let children apply mosquito repellent themselves.

Many mosquitoes that can transmit West Nile virus lay their eggs in stagnant water around the home. Any poor drainage around the yard can provide an outdoor home for mosquitoes to breed.

To reduce the mosquito population in and around your home, reduce or eliminate all standing water by following these steps:

  • Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramics pots or similar water-holding containers.
  • Remove all discarded tires on your property. Call your local landfill or public works authorities to find out how to dispose of them properly.
  • Remove all fallen leaves.
  • Drill holes in the bottoms of recycling containers that are kept outdoors.
  • Clean clogged gutters in the spring and fall. Make sure roof gutters drain properly.
  • Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
  • Change the water in birdbaths twice weekly. Clean vegetation and debris from the edge of ponds.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs. Drain water from pool covers.
  • Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property.

To learn more about how to reduce your risk of West Nile virus, call the New York State Department of Health toll free number, 1-800-458-1158 or visit www.health.state.ny.us/nysdoh/westnile/

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