State Health Department: Rabid Animal Found in Public Area in Clinton County, Certain Individuals Urged To Get Tested

Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus (EEEv) and West Nile virus (WNv) Identified in Mosquitoes in New York

ALBANY, N.Y. (August 20, 2013) - State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H., today urged all New Yorkers to take precautions to help prevent mosquito bites after mosquitoes carrying Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus (EEEv) and West Nile virus (WNv) were identified in the State.

While there have been no human or equine cases of EEEv in the State so far this year, the virus has been identified in fifteen (15) pools of mosquitoes in both Oswego (5) and Chautauqua (10) counties. Oswego County has had EEEv activity in previous seasons and is known to be a high- risk area for EEEv. The presence of EEEv in mosquitoes in Chautauqua County represents the first time EEEv has been identified in the county. While people of all ages are at risk for EEE infection, children under age 15 and adults over age 50 have the greatest risk for contracting the severe disease. Five human cases of EEEv have been reported in New York State: one each in 1971, 1983, 2009, 2010, and 2011; all cases were fatal.

Two human cases of WNv have been identified in New York City (Staten Island, NY) and one case has been identified in a horse in Oneida County. The New York State Department of Health's (DOH) mosquito surveillance program has also identified mosquitoes with WNv in several New York counties, including Chautauqua, Erie, Madison, Nassau, Onondaga, Oswego, Rockland, Suffolk, and Westchester, as well as New York City. People of all ages are at risk for WNv infection, however, adults age 50 and older as well as people with certain medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and organ transplants are at the greatest risk of developing serious symptoms. Last year, 107 cases of WNv were identified in New York State, and nine were fatal.

"It is vital that New Yorkers protect themselves from mosquito bites throughout the summer and fall seasons," said Commissioner Shah. "Residents and visitors need to remember that mosquitoes can be more than just a nuisance and have the potential to carry and transmit disease."

A human vaccine for EEEv or WNv is not available; protection against mosquito bites is New Yorkers' best defense against these diseases. DOH recommends that people protect themselves when outdoors by using an effective mosquito repellant and wearing long pants and long sleeves. DOH and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend applying insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Insect repellants containing oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under 3, and products containing DEET should not be used on infants under two months of age. For children two months or older, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends products containing 10 to 30 percent DEET. Ten percent DEET provides protection for about two hours and 30 percent protects for about five hours. Choose the lowest concentration that will provide the required length of coverage, and always follow the label instructions when using repellants.

When indoors, it is advised that doors be kept closed and that window screens are in place and in good repair to prevent mosquitoes from entering homes. People are also urged to eliminate standing water in yards. In addition, New Yorkers should:

  • Dispose of used tires, tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar containers in which water can collect.
  • Drill holes in the bottoms of recycling and other containers that are kept outdoors. Make sure roof gutters drain properly, and clean clogged gutters in the spring and fall.
  • Turn over plastic wading pool and wheelbarrows when not in use, and change the water in the bird baths twice a week.
  • Clean vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds. Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas, and hot tubs.
  • Drain water from pool covers.

In an effort to reduce the public health risk posed by mosquitoes, control programs such as aerial spraying have been initiated in New York City and a few New York counties. Residents should contact their local health department to obtain up-to-date information on mosquito control efforts in their county.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis is a viral disease spread by mosquitoes that can affect people and horses. People who are infected may suffer a range of symptoms - from no symptoms to a mild, flu-like illness with fever, headaches, and fatigue - to serious illness involving seizures and, in rare cases, coma or death. More information on Eastern Equine Encephalitis is available at:

West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne infection that can cause serious illness and occasionally death. Many people who contract West Nile virus do not experience any type of illness, and an estimated 20 percent of people who become infected will develop mild symptoms, including fever, headache, and body aches, and possibly a skin rash or swollen lymph glands. Severe infection (West Nile encephalitis or meningitis) causes convulsions, paralysis, and coma. It is estimated that one in 150 persons infected with West Nile virus will experience more severe disease. Additional information on West Nile virus is available at: