Oswego County finds EEE virus in swamps

The Oswego County Health Department announced that the eastern equine encephalitis virus has appeared in several more mosquito pools during the state health departments testing’s in Oswego County.  These samples were taken from the Big Bay-Toad Harbor Swamp area in the town of West Monroe.

The EEE disease is an uncommon but fatal disease transferred from mosquitoes to humans and animals. It attacks the neurological system, targeting the brain and nerve cells. Oswego County is a hot spot for EEE to thrive due to the deep woods, swamps and marshes.

“The area around Oneida Lake is a swampy area where mosquitoes that carry the EEE virus flourish,” said Jiancheng Huang, OCHD spokesman.

Since 2009, three infected people in central New York have died from the EEE virus including Maggie Wilcox, 4, of New Haven who passed away on Aug. 14. Two horses and a dog have also died from the virus in Oswego County during the last few weeks of summer. In the past few weeks; 16 pools of mosquitoes that carry the EEE virus have been found.

Although, cases of EEE are most common in children under the age of 15, EEE has no cure. According to the Centers for Disease Control website, the symptoms of EEE virus are headache, fever, irritability, restlessness, drowsiness, anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, cyanosis, convulsions and coma. EEE is the most serious mosquito transmitted disease in the U.S. and survivors are often left with traumatic brain damage and life long effects.

Due to these recent tragedies, Oswego County residents are encouraged to take precautions to avoid becoming a victim of this fatal illness.

“Aerial spraying is not an effective mean to completely kill off the mosquitoes with the virus, it is just a precautionary measure to reduce the public’s risk,” Huang said. “All of Oswego County should be taking extra personal safety measures to minimize the risk of contracting the EEE virus.”

The health department urges people to wear mosquito repellent, long sleeves and pants while outside for a long period of time. People are also advised to make sure that windows and doors have screens to prevent mosquitoes from getting indoors. Also make sure to discard of any standing water on or around property. Any still water or waste acts as a breeding ground for mosquitoes carrying EEE.

Due to the recent samples taken in Oswego County that came up positive for EEE and West Nile Virus, an aerial spraying, where insecticides applied by airplanes for pest control, took place on the evening of Aug. 30 around the Big Bay and Toad Harbor Swamps.

“Factors that went into deciding upon a round of aerial spraying in Oswego County included records of ongoing misquote surveillance and mosquito population in these specific areas. We also take the distance from humans into consideration when deciding where the aerial spraying will take place,” Huang said.

One main concern of Oswego County residents is if the aerial spraying procedure of fighting the EEE virus is a health risk for people, pets and the environment.

“The chemical being used is Kontrol 30-30 and has been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency,” Huang said. “Most of the chemicals dissolve before they ever reach the ground and are used in such small doses they are not expected to cause any health problems. Regardless, Oswego County will still be taking precautions for residents who are in the aerial spraying boundaries.”