As a new mom, Amber Legates already worries about a lot. And now, she has a new concern about the outbreak of EEE.
"We're going in before it's dark," said Legates who has a 7-month-old daughter. "I have to make sure she is inside, and we've gotten bug spray. We're staying away from mosquito areas."
Doctors say some can be bit by a mosquito carrying the virus, and not even know. But for others, especially children under 15 and adults over 50, it can swell the brain and result in death. Symptoms include a fever, headache, restlessness, drowsiness, vomiting, confusion and convulsions.
In the last 40 years there have been 5 EEE deaths in New York State, all have been in Central New York. The most recent, was 4-year-old Maggie Wilcox who died on Sunday. Tuesday night, Maggie's family sat in the audience, as health officials announced they would spray for a mosquitos. The decision comes after more pools tested positive for the virus.
"Usually we try to contain it to the swamp area so it doesn't spread out but all of a sudden it was out all over. So it was a different pattern than what we are used to," said Oswego County Health Director Dr. Dennis Norfleet.
Maggie's family has been pushing for the county to spray. The little girl died after she was bit by a EEE mosquito. She would have turned 5 Tuesday. During the press conference, the girls Aunt told health officials once Maggie had a fever, it was already too late.
Right now, the county is mapping out areas that may be sprayed in the coming days and weeks. But first, the state health commissioner needs to declare an emergency. Once the spraying starts, your personal safety precautions can't stop. Health officials say this is just a temporary fix because spraying only kills the mosquitoes that are out at that moment. Norfleet says the population will re-emerge and the EEE virus can as well.
Bug spray, long pants and sleeves and staying inside between dusk and dawn should be a priority because the EEE threat won't be over, until the temperatures cool down.
Oswego health officials aren't sure yet when the spraying will start, but the public will be notified.