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August 28, 2012

Oswego County Continues To Monitor Mosquito Activity

OSWEGO - The Oswego County Health Department continues to monitor mosquito and virus activity in its county-wide surveillance program.

Test results indicate that the West Nile virus (WNV) was found in mosquito samples collected in Central Square, New Haven and West Monroe this summer. An Oswego child has recovered from West Nile virus. It is also present in Onondaga County and areas of western and southern New York.

The Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus, which claimed the life of an Oswego County girl last year, has not been detected in the county at this time. An Oswego County child tested positive for the WNV earlier this month and has recovered at home.

"Mosquito samples are routinely collected from a number of trap sites around the county to test for the WNV and EEE and to track through the Mark-Release-Recapture (MRR) project," said Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang. "We continue to develop new methods to better understand mosquito activities and improve our surveillance. This helps further our preparation for disease prevention and response."

Oswego County doubled the number of its mosquito trap sites over a greater area of the county this year. The information gathered guides the county in planning mosquito control activities such as aerial spraying, a measure aimed at decreasing the risk of human infection from the EEE virus by reducing targeted mosquito populations.

On August 14, the town board of Hastings voted to conduct aerial spraying for mosquitoes. Town officials began mapping a target area in the town of Hastings outside the village of Central Square. Spraying will begin when weather conditions permit.

"Some people wonder why it is necessary to spray for mosquitoes, while others ask why we don't spray every year," said Huang. "Aerial spraying is only a partial and temporary measure in controlling the mosquito population. It does not erase the viruses from the environment and it will not eliminate the need for people to protect themselves.

The decision of whether or not to spray is not made lightly, according to Huang. In consultation with the New York State Department of Health, a variety of factors are considered such as the numbers and species of mosquitoes, infection rate and site locations, weather conditions and time of year, and the history and scientific data about the viruses.

"Due to a particularly dry summer, the mosquito population is significantly lower than usual this year and has not warranted the need for aerial spraying," said Huang. "Of course, we will continue our surveillance and should circumstances change, we will consider the option to spray."

Other issues that affect the decision to spray include the proximity of human population to positive mosquito pools and the potential harmful impact of the chemical spray on people, animals, other insect species, and the environment.

Huang said, "There are more than 30 different mosquito species identified in central New York and they carry different diseases, follow different life cycles and survive in different environments. The brief duration of an applied spray does not eliminate all mosquitoes and those that survive will reproduce rapidly."

The method of application is imperfect as well. Truck, or ground, spraying offers only limited coverage, not more than 150 feet, on either side of the road. Aerial spraying is a highly specialized practice with very few service providers.

Huang advises residents not to become complacent when aerial spraying takes place. "Given the limitations of spraying, the most effective and practical way to prevent mosquito-borne diseases remains personal protection measures to prevent mosquito bites," he said.

The Oswego County Health Department urges residents to protect themselves and their families by taking the following precautions:

  • Use insect repellent properly. Those that contain DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus are most effective but should be used with care. Read the product label and use according to package instructions.

  • Limit outdoor activities in areas where mosquitoes are most active and between dusk and dawn which is the peak mosquito biting time.

  • If you have to be outside, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, shoes and socks as weather permits.

In addition, residents can follow these protective measures to minimize mosquito populations in and around their homes and properties:

  • Repair or replace all window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.

  • Reduce or eliminate all standing water from pails, recycling containers, wheelbarrows, wading pools, pool covers and similar water-holding containers.

  • Clear roof gutters, remove leaf debris from yards and gardens, and clean vegetation and debris from the edge of ponds.
  • Change the water in birdbaths and horse troughs twice a week.

  • Dispose of old tires at an Oswego County transfer station. There is a minimum $10 disposal fee. Contact the Oswego County Solid Waste Department at 591-9200 for details.

  • Use microbial control agents, or dunks, in contained sources of water, such as abandoned swimming pools. Do not use dunks in areas where water sources flow together or in swampy regions.

The Oswego County Soil and Water Conservation District reports that it has free mosquito dunk kits available through grant funding provided by New York State. Residents can pick up them up from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at their office on state Route 3 in Volney.

For more information about the free mosquito dunk kits, call the Oswego County Soil and Water Conservation District at 315-592-9663.

To learn more about mosquito spraying and protecting your family against mosquito bites, call the Oswego County Health Department at 315-349-3547 or 1-800-596-3200, ext. 3547, or visit the New York State Department of Health Web site at www.health.state.ny.us.


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