Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Cynthia Morrow tells CNY Central that a county resident reported earlier this week to have been infected with Eastern Equine Enchephalitis has died.
Morrow would not reveal any information about the person, citing privacy of the victim's family. She did say that the individual was a resident of Onondaga County, but spent a lot of time outdoors in a neighboring community that had already been sprayed.
People who live in near swampy areas say they have their guard up. "It's a big threat, I mean you could possibly die from it," said Ian Falitico.
"I was staying inside all this weekend because as soon as we went outside we were just getting surrounded," said Tim Fahy.
Although the county does plan to spray the Cicero Swamp and surrounding areas to kill mosquitoes that carry Eastern Equine Encephalits, Morrow says residents in the Oneida Lake basin area need to take precautions to protect themselves . The county had planned to spray the swamp Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, but those were postponed due to concerns of high winds.
Residents near Cicero Swamp say they have noticed more mosquitos flying around. "They're horrible, I went outside last night to smoke a cigarette and I must have been rampaged by several of them. I had bites all over my arms," said Amanda Doris.
The county announced Wednesday afternoon that the swamp sprayings will now take place on Friday or Saturday from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The sprayings are dependent on proper weather conditions.
Several other counties in the Syracuse region have sprayed swampy areas identified in recent days as "hot spots" for the mosquitoes carrying the virus.
"It's very serious stuff, and they are doing the right thing by spraying," said Fahy.
The brain disease is rare in humans, but can be deadly. The Centers for Disease Control says there's an average of five human cases each year in the United States.
"This disease particularly can have a lot of neurological, brain related symptoms including confusions, and 50 - 70 percent of people who develop confusion and brain infections will die," said Dr. Waleed Javaid.
Public health officials advise people to take precautions against mosquito bites in areas where EEE has been found in the insects or horses.
For more information on EEE or mosquito spraying, you can call the Onondaga County Health Department at 315-435-1649 or visit www.ongov.net.health .