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

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August 29, 2008

EEE Found in Bird-Biting Mosquitoes in Oswego County

Dr. Dennis Norfleet, Interim Public Health Director for the Oswego County Health Department, announced today that the Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus was found in a pool of mosquitoes collected near the Toad Harbor Swamp in West Monroe. The virus has only been found in the type of mosquitoes that bite birds, not in mosquitoes that feed on humans or mammals, said Dr. Norfleet.

The mosquitoes were collected Aug. 18 near the large swamp on the north shore of Oneida Lake and sent to the state health department's Wadsworth Center Laboratories near Albany for testing. The Toad Harbor site is a longtime surveillance location known to periodically harbor the EEE virus.

Surveillance programs conducted by Oswego County and the State Department of Health indicate the population of human-biting mosquitoes is not high for this time of summer, and the population of bird-biting species is steady. The mosquito population will start to decline during September with the onset of cooler weather.

EEE is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. In rare cases, EEE causes inflammation and swelling of the brain. Symptoms include sudden high fever, muscle pains, and a headache of increasing severity. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek medical attention.

“There are about 60 different species of mosquitoes in New York State, but only a few species are capable of transmitting the EEE virus,” said Dr. Norfleet. “Typically, the EEE virus becomes established in bird-biting species before it crosses over into the human-biting species of mosquitoes. We've also been testing species that bite people, but the virus has only been found in mosquitoes that feed on birds.

“Aerial spraying is not warranted at this time,” he continued. “However, we will continue to monitor the situation with the state health department. If conditions changed drastically, we could possibly consider spraying at some point in the future.”

To help reduce the risk of EEE and other viruses carried by mosquitoes, people should:

  • Avoid outdoor activities during dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.

  • Wear shoes, long pants with bottoms tucked into boots or socks, and a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors for long periods of time.

  • Use mosquito repellent according to label directions.

  • Empty pails, swimming pool covers, flower pots and other containers of standing water around the home and yard.

  • Remove all discarded tires from around your property.

  • Replace or repair broken screens.

For more information about EEE and other viruses that are transmitted by mosquitoes, call the Oswego County Health Department at 349-3564 or 1-800-596-3200, ext. 3564, or visit the New York State Department of Health Web site.

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