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Mosquitoes in Oswego, Onondaga counties test positive for EEE, West Nile Virus

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In Oswego County, 22 samples of mosquitoes collected from the towns of West Monroe, Hastings, and Constantia this summer have tested positive for the Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus (EEE), a rare but serious disease that causes inflammation of the brain. Two horses in the county have died from the bites.

To combat the spread of the mosquitoes carrying EEE, Oswego County recently conducted an aerial spraying of approximately 10,000 acres. Onondaga County plans to do the same next week now that the virus has been found in a trap near the town of Cicero. Mosquitoes there also tested positive for West Nile Virus.

Lisa Letteney, Onondaga County's director of environmental health, says even with the spraying people still need to take precautions.

"We really encourage people to avoid mosquito bites as much as they can by using mosquito repellant and wearing long sleeves and long pants when they're in areas where mosquitoes are biting because spraying will cut down the mosquitoes in the swamp for a limited period of time, but it will not eliminate the virus, it will not eliminate all the mosquitoes," Letteney said. "So, that's the most important thing people can do to protect themselves."

Letteney says people should stay vigilant for the next month. Mosquito activity tends to decline as temperatures drop toward the end of September and beginning of October.

Area health officials say people can also protect themselves by reducing mosquito breeding grounds through removing any standing water and tires on their properties.  

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.