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Cicero readies for second aerial mosquito spraying

Ellen Abbott
Onondaga County Legislator Tim Burtis.

Onondaga County is ready to okay a second aerial spraying to kill mosquitoes that carry Eastern Equine Encephalitis near the Cicero swamp if the virus turns up again. County officials made the announcement in a woman’s backyard -- a woman who lived to tell the tale of EEE.

Denise Broton started feeling sick about this time last year, during a camping trip to the Adirondacks.

“You don’t survive EEE. I’m the first person in Onondaga County and the first person in the United States over the last 30 years, I guess, to have survived it,” Broton says.

In light of this, Legislator Tim Burtis will ask the Onondaga County Legislature to make funds available for a second spraying. Lisa Letteney, director of Environmental Health Assessment, says last weekend’s aerial spraying won’t keep the mosquito numbers down for long.

“It takes about seven to 10 days for mosquitos to rebound, and they will. The spraying certainly does not eliminate the mosquitos. It does not eliminate the virus,” Letteney says. “That’s why the most important message is personal protection, to protect yourself from mosquitoes,  because the spraying will not eliminate the virus.”

Letteney says the purpose of the spraying is to break the cycle of the virus and reduce human risk by cutting back on the number of mosquitos. The Onondaga County Health Department urges people to use bug spray, especially at dawn and dusk; make sure all windows and doors have screens; and to eliminate standing water on their property, which can be a breeding ground for mosquitos.

It costs the county just over $41,000 to conduct each aerial spraying.

More about Broton’s story

Broton says doctors figured she made it through because she was in good shape; she was in the midst of training for a triathlon. But, there are still after effects of the disease.

"I still have some cognitive issues, with memory, sentence structure, things like that,” she says. “My brain gets very tired, I have to rest a lot. But I’m doing well."

"My brain gets very tired, I have to rest a lot. But I'm doing well."

Broton doesn’t mind being a poster child for the dangers of a tiny mosquito bite. A bottle of insect repellant sat on a picnic table as county officials announced they’ll be ready if another potential round of spraying is needed. For her part, Broton says she'll never look at a mosquito the same way again.

“I don’t even go to the mailbox without spraying first thing in the morning. You need to still be diligent.  Even though the county is doing what they can to spray, we as the pubic still need to be diligent to make sure we protect ourselves, our children,” Broton said.

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.