MAYVILLE – West Nile Virus and another mosquito-borne illness has been detected in Chautauqua County.
The Chautauqua County Department of Health says the virus, and Eastern Equine Encephalitis, was confirmed in a horse in the Ashville area.
While the virus is generally considered to be present throughout Western New York, this is the first Eastern Equine Encephalitis detected since 2013.
“The WNV and EEE are serious viral diseases that are transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito,” said Christine Schuyler, County Public Health Director. “Various mosquito species transmit different diseases that are caused by different viruses. The key to safeguarding against these illnesses is to take basic precautions to avoid mosquito bites.”
There is no commercially available human vaccine for either virus. The best way to protect yourself is to keep mosquitoes from biting you. Vaccines are available for horses in consultation with a veterinarian.
People are urged to follow these precautions to defend against mosquito bites:
- Use insect repellent properly. Those that contain DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus are most effective but should be used with care. Read the product label and use according to package instructions.
- Limit outdoor activities in areas where mosquitoes are most active and between dusk and dawn which is the peak mosquito biting time.
- If you have to be outside, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, shoes and socks as weather permits.
- Repair or replace all window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
- Reduce or eliminate all standing water.
- Empty or dispose of pails, cans, flower pots, or similar water-holding containers.
- Clear roof gutters, remove leaf debris from yards and gardens, and clean vegetation and debris from the edge of ponds.
- Turn over wheelbarrows and wading pools when not in use.
- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs and drain pool covers.
- Clean vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds
- Change the water in birdbaths and horse troughs twice a week.
- Dispose properly of old tires.
The risk of contracting either the virus coincides with heaviest mosquito activity, typically from June through September with peak activity in August.
In the last 20 years, New York State has reported 624 human cases of the West Nile with 49 fatalities (excludes New York City) as compared with only 11 reported human cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis between 1971 and 2015, all of which occurred in the Central New York area.