WEST MONROE — Local health officials announced aerial spraying to control mosquito populations is scheduled to take place over the Toad Harbor Swamp area in the southeast corner of Oswego County on Sunday evening.
The Oswego County Health Department said Friday the spraying would occur in portions of the towns of Hastings, West Monroe and Constantia in an effort to reduce the mosquito population that carries the potentially deadly Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus. Spraying is scheduled to take place after 6 p.m. Aug. 9, in an area within the borders of U.S. Route 11 in Central Square to the west, state Route 49 to the north, up to but not including the village of Constantia in the east and the Oneida Lake shoreline to the south.
Pesticide will not be applied over the open waters of Oneida Lake, according to the county.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), EEE is a rare illness in humans with only a few cases reported in the U.S. each year, but the virus is “one of the most severe mosquito-transmitted diseases” in the nation. Approximately 33 percent of infected individuals die from the disease and most survivors experience significant brain damage, according to the CDC.
EEE is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. The CDC says most people infected with the virus have no apparent illness, but severe cases involving encephalitis — an inflammation of the brain — start with the sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills and vomiting. The illness can then progress into disorientation, seizures or coma.
The New York State Department of Health (DOH) declared EEE an “imminent threat to public health” in Oswego County. Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang said the county is working closely with DOH to take the necessary steps required to prepare for aerial spraying.
County officials noted aerial spraying is dependent on weather conditions. Residents within the spray area will be notified of the spraying by the Hyper-Reach Broadcast Notification Service through Oswego County’s E911 Emergency Communications Department.
If spraying is postponed due to weather conditions, residents will be notified through the news media and information will be posted on the Oswego County website at oswegocounty.com.
EEE in Oswego County was first discovered this year in mosquitoes in West Monroe in late July. More mosquito populations were found to be carrying the virus a week later in the same area.
There have been five human cases of EEE in New York state since 1971 — all in Oswego and Onondaga counties — with the most recent cases occurring in 2010 and 2011, according to the state Department of Health (DOH). Each of the five cases proved fatal.
The product Kontrol 30-30, which contains permethrin, will be applied in a diluted form, according to the county. The county has contracted with Duflo Spray-Chemical from Lowville to conduct the aerial spraying. Anyone seeking more information on the pesticide being applied can visit https://health.oswegocounty.com/programs/environmental1/eee.php or call the county Health Department at 315-349-3564 weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. or 315-341-0086 after 4 p.m.
Residents in the spray area should stay indoors and keep windows and doors closed between 6 and 10 p.m.
Residents are also advised to keep pets indoors, close vents on window air conditioners, remove outdoor toys, furniture and clothing from clotheslines. Items left outdoors should be washed thoroughly before use.
Residents are also advised to cover gardens and rinse homegrown fruits and vegetables thoroughly before cooking or eating.
Individuals driving through the area while spraying takes place should close their car windows and vents.
To protect against mosquitoes, health officials advise the following:
- Use a mosquito repellent when participating in outdoor activities and be sure to follow label directions. Those that contain DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus are effective. Repellents containing permethrin are meant for clothing and gear and should not be applied directly to the skin.
- Wear shoes, socks, pants and a long-sleeved shirt when possible and limit outdoor activities when mosquitoes are most active; between dusk and dawn.
- Drain or remove standing water around the home and yard including recycling containers and
- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs, and drain pool covers.
- Dispose of old tires. Used tires are a significant mosquito breeding site and are accepted at Oswego County transfer stations for a fee. Call the Oswego County Solid Waste Department at 315-591-9200 for details.
- Replace or repair broken screens to keep mosquitoes outside.