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

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July 29, 2005

Health Commissioner Suggests that County Residents Protect themselves from Exposure to Mosquitoes

Oswego County Health Commissioner Kathleen Smith is urging county residents to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites and protect themselves from potential exposure to West Nile virus, Eastern equine encephalitis, and other mosquito-borne diseases.

"West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne infection that can cause encephalitis and serious health problems," said Smith. "Mosquitoes in central New York can also carry Eastern equine encephalitis. While the chances of a person getting encephalitis are small, we should all take steps to reduce the prevalence of mosquitoes around the home."

Dead birds, especially crows, continue to be the most effective indicator of the presence of West Nile virus. People are encouraged to report dead crows, including details about where the bird was found, to the Oswego County Health Department, phone 349-3564. Dead birds may also be reported to a toll-free number: 1-866-537-BIRD.

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, ceramic pots and similar water-holding containers.
  • Remove all discarded tires on your property. Used tires have become one of the most common mosquito breeding grounds.
  • Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers that are kept outdoors. Make sure that gutters drain properly, and clean clogged gutters in the spring and fall.
  • Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
  • Change the water in birdbaths.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs.
  • Drain water from pool covers.
  • Use landscaping to eliminate stagnant water that collects on your property.
  • Make sure that all doors and windows have screens that are in good repair.
  • 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.

Additional information is posted on the New York State Department of Health Web site at http://www.nyhealth.gov

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