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July 9, 2010

EEE Found In Bird-Biting Mosquitoes in West Monroe

WEST MONROE - The Oswego County Health Department reported 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 on June 30 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 long-time 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. Dennis Norfleet, Public Health Director for the Oswego County Health Department. "The surveillance programs conducted by Oswego County and the New York State Department of Health indicate the populations of mammal-biting mosquitoes are at seasonal levels. Therefore, aerial spraying is not warranted at this time."

Dr. Norfleet added, "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."

In rare cases, humans may be infected with the EEE virus, which 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.

Dr. Norfleet advises that staying away from areas where mosquitoes concentrate and limiting outside activity between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active are two of the best measures people can take.

Other precautions include:

  • Wear shoes, socks, long pants, and a long sleeved shirt when outdoors for long periods of time and at dawn and dusk.
  • Use mosquito repellent over clothes. Repellants containing DEET are the most effective, but should be used with caution and according to label instructions.
  • Repair or replace broken screens in doors and windows
  • Empty pails, swimming pool covers, flower pots and other containers of standing water around the home and yard to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds

For more information about EEE and other viruses transmitted by mosquitoes, call the Oswego County Health Department at 315-349-3564 or 1-800-596-3200, ext.3564 between 8:30am and 4:00 pm or visit the New York State Department of Health Web site at www.health.state.ny.us/diseases/communicable/eastern_equine_encephalitis/fact_sheet.htm


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