Update on Onondaga County Resident with EEE

Onondaga County Health Commissioner, Indu Gupta, MD, MPH, announced today that the town of Salina resident who was recently diagnosed with the Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus (EEE) infection has died.  Dr. Gupta explained, “It is with great sadness that I report to the community that an elderly Onondaga County resident has died as a result of EEE.  Our thoughts are with the family during this difficult time.  This is the first known case of human EEE in Onondaga County this year and this outcome is a painful reminder of how serious EEE can be.”  To protect the privacy of this patient and of the family, additional details are not released.

Dr. Gupta explained that EEE infection is a rare but serious viral infection that is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito and can cause encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain. Initial symptoms, which usually start 4-10 days after the bite, can include fever, headache, and vomiting. Illness can then progress to an altered mental status, confusion, seizures, coma, and even death. The greatest risk for infection with this virus is for people, especially the very young and elderly, who spend time outdoors.

The Health Department reminds residents that prevention of mosquito borne illness is essential.  Although the mosquito numbers remain low, it is imperative that the public continue to take measures to minimize being bitten by mosquitoes until the first hard frost. With continued warm weather and many central New Yorkers enjoying the last days of summer by spending time outdoors, it is critical that residents continue to use personal protection measures and not to become complacent in doing so.

Mosquitoes are most active between dusk and dawn.  Personal protection is advised during outdoor activities.  Personal protection measures include wearing shoes and socks, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt when outside for a long period of time.  Applying a mosquito repellent containing DEET, Picaridin, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, or IR3535 is also recommended to prevent mosquito bites.  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.  Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for application.
To keep your yard free from standing water to reduce the mosquito population near your home:

  • 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 bird baths 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

For more information about the Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus or about personal protection measures contact the Onondaga County Health Department, Division of Environmental Health at 435-1649 or visit /health/mosquitoborne.html or