EEE death prompts statewide conference call. Should counties spray for mosquitoes?

Oswego County has decided against spraying for mosquitoes following the death of a child from Eastern Equine Encephalitis. Public Health Director, Dr. Dennis Norfleet says the decision against spraying was a "consensus" that was reached with the New York State Health Department, "that aerial spraying would not eliminate EEE in the county."

On Monday night many of their parents at the town park in Mexico were discussing the tragic death of four year old Maggie Sue Wilcox from EEE. Megan Orr has two young children and said she was worried about their safety. Orr also had concerns about the chemicals involved with mosquito spraying but questioned Oswego County's decision to not spray for mosquitoes.

"Probably to be safe I suppose they should do something if they can," said Orr.

In a statement, Dr. Norfleet said that while neighbors should take precautions against the disease - spraying would not eliminate EEE. "Spraying will only eliminate a portion of the mosquito population for a limited time and not completely eradicate the problem. spraying is more effective in a concentrated area where EEE has been detected and helps to prevent the spread of the virus. However this year EEE was detected within the same week in many towns around the county," said Norfleet.

Many parents still thought the county should spray. Matt Bryant has a five year old son, and knows the Wilcox family. Bryant said that the death of a young child shows just how dangerous EEE can be and why the county should do more to protect children.

"Just learning that it's not something that is enough of a concern for them to think about spraying - it's very concerning," said Bryant of the county's decision.

In a statement, Oswego County said it would continue to conduct tests and monitor results for future decisions.

Earlier Monday, a conference call among health officials from Oneida, Oswego, Onondaga, and Madison as well as the New York State Health Department resulted in no decision on whether to spray for mosquitoes in Central New York.

Onondaga County Director of Environmental Health, Kevin Zimmerman participated in the conference call. He told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon that the discussion centered on an education campaign aimed at informing people how to protect themselves from exposure to mosquitoes. "That's key for now" Zimmerman said. Zimmerman said surveillance which involves the trapping and testing of mosquitoes will continue. He pointed out that there have been no cases of EEE in Onondaga County so far.

For his part Madison County Director of Public Health Eric Faisst says they are stepping up their monitoring, mosquito trapping and public education in the wake of an Oswego County child's death from EEE.

Faisst says there have been no positive cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis in mosquitoes, horses or humans in Madison County but there have been cases in surrounding counties. He says any decision to spray would be the result of a coordinated approach involving the state health department and the Madison County Board of Supervisors.

Meanwhile Faisst advises people to avoid exposure to mosquitoes in the dusk and evening hours, wear long clothing to cover skin and use repellents that include DEET, check the screens on your home and get rid of standing water that can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. More information is posted on the Madison County Health Department's website .

Should aerial spraying of mosquitoes been reviewed earlier by Central New York counties? Should new requirements be looked at in the future? Leave your comments below.