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

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May 31, 2005

West Nile Virus Remains a Cause for Concern in Oswego County

West Nile Virus, a mosquito-borne infection that can cause encephalitis, will be a potential health concern with the arrival of warmer weather in Oswego County.

"West Nile Virus can cause serious health problems and in rare instances can lead to death," said Kathleen Smith, Oswego County Commissioner of Health Services. "The virus was present in Oswego County last year. A Town of Oswego man was hospitalized with the disease. Because West Nile Virus is spread by mosquitoes, protecting yourself against mosquito bites is the best way to avoid the disease."

Individuals aged 50 and over are at highest risk for serious illness.

"There are about 70 different mosquito species in New York State. Only a handful of them can transmit West Nile Virus," Smith said.

Many mosquitoes that can transmit West Nile Virus lay their eggs in stagnant water around the home. Mosquitoes can breed in any stagnant water that lasts more than four days.

"Any standing water around the yard can provide a place for mosquitoes to breed. Mosquitoes can then enter houses through broken screens or unscreened windows or doors," said Smith.

To reduce the mosquito population around your home and property, the Oswego County Health Department advises you to take the following steps to reduce or eliminate standing water:

  • Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water-holding containers.
  • Drill drainage holes in the bottoms of recycling containers that are kept outdoors.
  • Make sure that your roof gutters drain properly, and clean clogged gutters every spring and fall.
  • Turn over wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
  • Change the water in birdbaths twice a week.
  • Properly dispose of used tires.
  • Clean vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds.
  • Clean and properly chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs.
  • Drain water from pool covers.
  • Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property.
  • Make sure windows and doors have screens in good condition.

"Although it isn't necessary to limit any outdoor activities," said Smith, "you can reduce your risk of being bitten by mosquitoes by minimizing outdoor activities between dusk and dawn, wearing shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when you are outdoors for long periods of time; and consider using a mosquito repellent when outdoors.

For more information on West Nile Virus, call the Oswego County Health Department at 349-3564 or visit the New York State Department of Health Web site at www.health.state.ny.us.

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