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

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July 13, 2009

EEE Found in Bird-Biting Mosquitoes in West Monroe

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

The mosquitoes were collected July 1 near Toad Harbor 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 virus, which is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito.

“EEE is usually detected in bird-biting mosquitoes before it appears in mammal-biting mosquitoes,” said Dr. Norfleet. “The surveillance programs conducted by Oswego County and the State Department of Health indicate the populations of mammal-biting mosquitoes are at seasonal levels considering the recent cool temperatures and wet weather. Therefore, aerial spraying is not warranted at this time.”

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.

“It is very important that people take personal protective measures to reduce their chances of being exposed to EEE and other viruses carried by mosquitoes,” said Dr. Norfleet. “We will continue our monitoring program with the state health department. If conditions change, we could possibly consider spraying at some point in the future.”

To reduce the risk of mosquito bites, people should:

  • Wear shoes, long pants with bottoms tucked into boots or socks, and a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors for long periods of time, and at dawn and dusk, when many species of mosquitoes are most active.

  • 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.

Insect repellents that contain DEET are effective but should be used with caution.

“DEET comes in many different concentrations, with percentages ranging from as low as 5 percent to as high as 100 percent,” said Dr. Norfleet. “Make sure to read the label for safety instructions and always follow the directions on the package.”

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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