Virus declared ‘imminent threat to public health’
OSWEGO – Less than a month after Eastern equine encephalitis — the potentially deadly virus carried by mosquitoes — was discovered for the first time this year in the Oswego County town of Albion, multiple samples of the mosquitoes tested positive for the virus in Albion and West Monroe.
The Oswego County Health Department announced Wednesday that the Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus was detected in four mosquito pools collected last week in Albion and Toad Harbor Swamp in the West Monroe and Constantia area. The state Department of Health (DOH) tested the mosquito samples and declared EEE an “imminent threat to public health” in Oswego County, according to the county.
EEE has been detected in Oswego County mosquito populations for at least eight straight years, largely in the Toad Harbor Swamp and Albion areas.
Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang noted the state’s designation of the virus as a threat to public health is one of the first steps required before Oswego County can receive permission from state agencies to conduct aerial spraying of targeted areas to control mosquito populations. In recent years, spraying has typically been conducted in August following multiple positive samples of EEE and West Nile Virus, another mosquito-borne illness.
Aerial spraying is not yet planned, but the county noted a date and time of spraying would be announced as soon as plans are finalized. Officials said advance notice would be given to ensure residents have an opportunity to prepare.
Huang noted, however, aerial spraying is a temporary, partial measure to control EEE and individuals should continue to protect themselves from mosquitoes.