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July 31, 2009

More Mosquitoes Test Positive for EEE in Oswego County--
Oswego County Plans Aerial Spraying Next Week

The Oswego County Health Department has been notified that four more pools of mosquitoes, collected from the Toad Harbor/Big Bay Swamp area on the north shore of Oneida Lake, have tested positive for Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE).

Public Health Director Dr. Dennis Norfleet said the virus has spread from a species of mosquito that feeds on birds to a species that bites humans, and will continue to spread as new mosquito larvae hatch. As a result, Oswego County is preparing to conduct aerial spraying of the Toad Harbor and Big Bay swamps by the middle of or late next week. The aerial spraying schedule will be announced to the public through the news media.

“Five pools of mosquitoes have tested positive for EEE since July 1,” said Dr. Norfleet. “This is the same area where the EEE virus has been active in the past, and we have indications that the virus will continue to be active. Therefore, the health department is in the process of declaring an imminent public health threat and is seeking permission to conduct aerial spraying.”

The area will include about 10,000 acres in the Toad Harbor and Big Bay swamps north of Oneida Lake. Spraying will not extend beyond U.S. Route 11 in Central Square to the west, NYS Route 49 to the north, the village of Constantia to the east, and the shoreline of Oneida Lake to the south. Spraying will not take place over the waters of Oneida Lake.

Eastern equine encephalitis is a rare but serious viral disease that can infect people and horses. The virus is spread by mosquitoes. In humans, the disease can affect the central nervous system and cause fever, headache, fatigue, and muscle pain. It requires intense supportive medical care and can be fatal.

“While the chances of a person getting Eastern equine encephalitis are small, we should all take steps to reduce the prevalence of mosquitoes around the home,” said Dr. Norfleet. “The best way to protect yourself is to stay away from any areas where mosquitoes might concentrate, and limit your outside activities during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes will be most active.”

To protect against mosquito bites, people should wear shoes and socks, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants when outside around dawn and dusk. Insect repellant containing DEET is most effective. It should be applied over clothing and only used according to the label instructions.

  • To reduce mosquitoes around the home, replace or repair broken screens and install new screens as needed;
  • Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar outdoor items that hold water;
  • Drill holes in the bottoms of recycling containers that are kept outside;
  • Clean clogged rain gutters and make sure they continue to work properly;
  • Turn over wheelbarrows and wading pools when not in use;
  • Change water in bird baths at least every four days;
  • Clear vegetation and debris from edges of ponds;
  • Clean chlorinated swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs;
  • Drain water from pool covers; and
  • Use landscaping materials to eliminate low spots where standing water accumulates.

For more information about EEE, call the Oswego County Health Department at 349-3564 or 1-800-596-3200, ext. 3564 weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Evenings and weekends, call the health department’s on-call service at 341-0086. Information is also available on the New York State Department of Health Web site.


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