Matt's Memo: EEE kills girl, does not lead to spraying

Maggie Wilcox, 4 year old victim of Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

This should have been a day to celebrate the fifth birthday of Maggie Wilcox of New Haven. Instead her family is planning her funeral service after she suddenly died of the effects of the untreatable Eastern Equine Encephalitis. That TMs the rare mosquito borne illness that appears in the breeding grounds of the swampy areas around Oneida Lake each summer.

Maggie TMs death has struck a chord with the Central New York community and touched off a robust debate over whether the Oswego County Health Department should utilize aerial spraying to cut into the mosquito population. Health Commissioner Dr. Dennis Norfleet issued a printed news release just before 5:00 tonight explaining that he will not order aerial spraying because it would not be effective enough to cut into all of the EEE virus.

There is a balance the public health experts try to strike between the tragedy of Maggie TMs death and the science of eliminating mosquitoes and the virus they carry. They have made a judgment that public education is a better approach to stopping further infections as compared to widespread aerial spraying.

What the health department has not done is come before cameras and journalists and fully explained its position. It spent most of the day utilizing the family TMs privacy interest to resist comment. Tomorrow will have to be approached differently as the comments and concerns mount on Facebook and other digital forums.

Many people with out the full scientific picture are adamant that spraying should be take place. Other commenters urge restraint to avoid an over reaction to this one death. Maggie TMs parents mentioned EEE in an obituary that was almost as brief as her sweet life. They asked that her death, bring about awareness of the significant and imminent danger regarding the EEE virus and that actions be taken to prevent this tragedy from happening again.

The first action that should be taken is Dr. Dennis Norfleet making himself available to fully explain the complex decision that was made in the wake of the death of Maggie Wilcox.

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