As mosquito season comes to a close, there’s still a reason to be wary of these blood-sucking insects.
The Onondaga County Health Department Environmental Health Field Office has found two different pools of mosquitos that tested positive for the West Nile virus and the Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus.
How to stay protected from virus-carrying mosquitos in the last few months of summer
Why are mosquitoes tested by the health department?
The pool of mosquitos in one of their traps in the Cicero Swamp on East Taft road tested positive for the West Nile Virus, while another trap located on Route 298 in the Cicero Swamp tested positive for EEE.
Stephanie Waldron is the Director of Environmental Health Assessment at the Onondaga County Health Department.
She works with the department’s risk section and is in charge of the rabies and mosquito programs.
“In Onondaga County, we set what we call CDC traps, that use carbon dioxide and light, and it traps mosquitoes. We have three traps that we set up in the Cicero swamp and our East Taft road trap was the one that tested positive,” said Waldron.
“We do a lot of trapping and testing to see if we do need to aerial spray. It all goes with mosquito numbers and what we find. This year in May and June, it was wet so our mosquito numbers were high, but they didn’t have any virus in them. The virus does seem to pop up sometimes in August and September at the very end of their season.”
Are these viruses a danger to New Yorkers?
In terms of what the West Nile virus does, Waldron explained, most people are asymptomatic.
However, if you do have a bite and experience any aches, pains, or a fever, then you are likely infected.
“It’s usually like 48 to 72 hours for the virus onset. A lot of people will be asymptomatic. There’s only about 20% of people that are even exposed to it that might have symptoms. That can be anywhere from aches and pains to fever, the fever can get quite high.”
According to the Onondaga Health Department, EEE is a rare but serious disease that causes encephalitis or inflammation of the brain.
Waldron said that it’s always something to be a little concerned about, however, the West Nile and EEE viruses are pretty uncommon.
“When our mosquito counts are really high in the swamp, and we start having positives of West Nile and EEE, that’s when we look into aerial spraying. Right now our mosquito numbers are so low. Aerial spraying wouldn’t really knock down the population. But it is a possibility. We sprayed aerial spray last year in September.”
Waldron says to use bug spray to protect yourself as the summer comes to a close and the mosquito count increases.
“Dusk and dawn, that’s the time that you can actually get them. If you’re hiking, that type of stuff, just use bug spray. Use long pants if you can when hiking, when you’re doing lawn work. And all those things if you’re going to be out in the evening. Bug spray that really is your best defense,” she said.
Megan is a multimedia journalist serving as one of our core reporters in the Finger Lakes region. She is responsible for telling stories that matter to every day Upstate New Yorkers. Have a question or lead? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.