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No aerial spraying in Onondaga County to fight West Nile

With the spread of West Nile Virus across the country, some communities have chosen to spray pesticides to kill the mosquitoes that carry the deadly virus.  Despite the death of an elderly man in Syracuse from West Nile this week, Onondaga County officials have decided against that option.  

Spraying is not the answer to the latest incidence of West Nile Virus infections among mosquitoes in central New York according to the Onondaga County Health Department.  Commissioner Dr. Cynthia Morrow says there is a very low number of mosquitos right now, and aerial spraying would be difficult, because the virus is spread out over a large geographical area.  She adds that the county does take measures to kill mosquitos.

"I think a lot of people don't understand that, that we, throughout the season, do larvae aciding, which means we go to known breeding sites; we apply chemicals to decrease the adult mosquito population.  That is an ongoing program and has been for years," said Morrow.

The health department is continuing an education program that tells central New Yorkers to use insect repellant and other measures to stay away from mosquito bites when they are most active, between dusk and dawn.

And officials say residents of central New York just need to get used to using insect repellant every summer.  Richard Pettit of the Onondaga County Health Department says West Nile virus has been in this country for ten years, now.

"I believe it's here to stay.  It's just another thing people have to think about when protecting their health," said Pettit.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.