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August 16, 2011

Oswego County Prepares for Aerial Spraying of Mosquitoes

OSWEGO - The Oswego County Health Department today announced several steps being taken in response to the outbreak of Eastern equine encephalitis in Oswego County. The virus was first detected in the Toad Harbor / Big Bay Swamp area in the town of West Monroe and in the Town of Palermo on July 29. Since that time evidence of EEE has turned up in the village of Central Square and towns of Volney, Albion and Scriba. A child from New Haven died of EEE on Aug. 14. It is not known where she contracted the disease, which is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito.

Dr. Dennis Norfleet, Oswego County Public Health Director, said the county health department has taken several steps to prepare for aerial spraying.

"The decision to conduct aerial spraying is a complicated process that involves many factors. My staff and I remain in close consultation with the NYS Department of Health," said Dr. Norfleet. "We have submitted a letter to the New York State Health Commissioner to make a declaration of emergency that will allow us to conduct aerial spraying. We are awaiting their response.

"We are expecting additional data from our EEE surveillance from the New York State Department of Health. The county is working with the aerial spraying contractor to map out areas that would be considered for spraying. Although the county has been monitoring and conducting aerial spraying as a means of controlling EEE for more than 20 years, some of the areas we are looking at have not been targeted previously. The decision on when and where to conduct aerial spraying will be based on scientific evidence. It will not be based on cost."

The county was notified of several new positive pools of mosquitoes today. Most were collected in the Toad Harbor Swamp area. The virus was detected in one new area, near Paradise Road in Palermo. Dr. Norfleet said the county is awaiting additional test results from the state Health Department. "We will spray in areas that will have an effect on reducing the spread of EEE."

Dr. Norfleet said that residents need to realize that aerial spraying is a temporary, partial measure to reduce the spread of the Eastern equine encephalitis virus. Residents should not become complacent when aerial spraying takes place.

"The most effective actions people can take are to stay away from areas where mosquitoes concentrate and to limit outside activity between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active," said Dr. Norfleet.

Other precautions include:

  • Wear shoes, socks, 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.
  • 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.

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 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. or visit the New York State Department of Health Web site at http://www.health.state.ny.us/diseases/communicable/eastern_equine_encephalitis/fact_sheet.htm or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Web site at http://www.cdc.gov/EasternEquineEncephalitis/.

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