The Oswego County Health Department launched its full-scale mosquito surveillance program for the 2013 season with training sessions the week of May 28 at its field station at Toad Harbor Swamp in the Town of West Monroe.
Participants learned about how mosquitoes are trapped, identified and prepared for testing for diseases such as the Eastern equine encephalitis virus and the West Nile Virus.
“As part of a long-term surveillance program, our staff collects mosquito specimens from a number of trap sites around the county,” said Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang. “This year, we will continue to monitor the same areas that had high mosquito activities last year.”
Two of these locations are the Toad Harbor and Big Bay swamp areas in the town of Hastings, which are often the first places where EEE appears each summer.
Traps are set in and near hardwood swamp areas because they are a perfect breeding ground for the Culiseta melanura mosquito, the main carrier of EEE. Once captured, mosquitoes are identified and grouped by species, gender, and whether or not they have ingested blood.
The collection or “pool” of mosquitoes is then sent to the NYS Department of Health laboratory near Albany for testing that same week and the results are usually received the following week.
The EEE virus is one of the most serious mosquito-borne diseases. It rarely affects humans; however, when it does, the virus can cause a serious infection or even death.
The best defense against the virus is to guard against mosquito bites.
The Oswego County Health Department reminds residents to protect themselves and their families by taking the following precautions:
• Use insect repellent properly. Repellents containing DEET or picaridin are the most effective, but should be used with caution. Read the product label and use according to package instructions.
• Whenever possible, limit outdoor activities in areas where mosquitoes are most active and between dusk and dawn which is the peak mosquito-biting time.
• As weather permits, wear protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts, long pants, shoes and socks.
In addition, people can follow these protection measures to minimize mosquito populations in and around their homes and properties:
• Install or repair all door and window screens.
• Reduce or eliminate all standing water from old tires, pails, recycling containers, flower pots, wheelbarrows, wading pools and pool covers.
• Change the water in birdbaths and horse troughs twice a week.