Mosquitoes Found Positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile Viruses

Onondaga County Health Commissioner, Dr. Indu Gupta, was notified by the New York State Department of Health Wadsworth Laboratory today that mosquitoes from a trap located on Route 298 in the Cicero Swamp area in the town of Cicero have tested positive for both Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus (EEEV) and West Nile virus (WNV). Dr. Gupta explains that, “these viruses are spread by the bite of an infected mosquito; therefore it is extremely important that people use personal protection measures to reduce their risk of being bitten by mosquitoes.”

Eastern Equine Encephalitis
EEE is a rare but serious disease that causes encephalitis or inflammation of the brain. People over the age of 50 and younger than the age of 15 are at greatest risk for developing severe disease when infected with EEEV.

West Nile Virus
Most people who are infected with WNV do not develop symptoms. One in five people who are infected develop a fever with symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. Severe illness can strike at any age, however, people over 60 years of age and people with certain medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, or who have received organ transplants, are at higher risk.

Aerial Spraying Planned
The Onondaga County Health Department is making preparations to conduct aerial spraying of the Cicero Swamp and immediate surrounding areas. Gupta explains, “This proactive measure is done in an attempt to interrupt the virus cycle in the mosquito population. Spraying temporarily reduces the number of mosquitoes and therefore fewer mosquitoes are available to transmit virus to humans.” The timing of the spraying will be determined by weather conditions and other factors, and the actual date will be announced to the public through the news media and other communication channels.

Protect Yourself from Mosquito Bites
Even though the mosquito counts have been steadily decreasing in our county, this first positive finding of EEEV and WNV in mosquitoes serves as a reminder for all residents that these viruses are present and to be consistent in protecting yourself and your family from mosquito bites no matter where you live. Personal protection is recommended during outdoor activities by wearing shoes, socks, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt when outside for a long period of time. Use of a mosquito repellent containing DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone is also recommended to prevent mosquito bites. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for application. Do not put the repellent directly onto children; put it on your hands and apply it to your child.  Do not put insect repellent on your face. Wash skin and clothing after returning indoors.

It is also important to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home by removing mosquito breeding grounds:

  • Throw away outdoor containers, ceramic pots or containers that hold water
  • Remove all tires from your property
  • Drill holes in the bottoms of recycling containers that are kept outdoors
  • Clean clogged rain gutters and make sure they continue to work properly
  • Turn over wheelbarrows and wading pools when not in use
  • Change water in birdbaths at least every four days
  • Clear vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds
  • Clean chlorinated swimming pools, outdoor saunas, and hot tubs
  • Drain water from pool covers
  • Use landscaping to eliminate low spots where standing water accumulates

The Onondaga County Health Department remains in close contact with the New York State Departments of Health and Environmental Conservation. For the weekly mosquito pool test results and for more information about personal protection measures against mosquitoes, visit  or contact the Onondaga County Health Department’s Division of Environmental Health at 315. 435.1649.