Second horse dies from EEE in Oneida Co., more suspected cases

A second horse in Oneida County has died from Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or EEE.

The horse was from the Camden area in the northwestern part of the county.

This is the second horse fatality in Oneida County this year from EEE. In late July, a horse in Westmoreland was euthanized after suffering neurological symptoms. Tests later confirmed the animal was infected with EEE.

Meanwhile, Oneida County Health officials are awaiting test results on two more horses believed to have a virus. They were found in western Oneida County. Both animals were euthanized, and officials are waiting to determine whether they were infected with EEE, West Nile Virus or another virus. The results will likely be known early next week.

EEE is always fatal in horses. It rarely affects humans, but can, in some cases, cause illness ranging from mild flu-like symptoms to brain swelling and even death.

Meanwhile, the first mosquito pool has tested positive for West Nile Virus in Oneida County. It was found in the Town of Verona last week.

"With the imminent cool morning and evening temperatures associated with the fall season, we expect to see a drastic decline in the mosquito population throughout Oneida County and a reduction in the threat of infections they carry," Dr. Gayle Jones, Director of Health said. "Meanwhile, I urge residents to take all necessary precautions to avoid mosquito bites."

Here are some important tips to keep in mind:

- Limit outdoor activity, particularly during the periods of dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active- Wear long sleeves, pants tucked into your socks and apply repellant containing DEET when outdoors- Eliminate standing water like wading pools, bird baths old tires which serve as breeding grounds for mosquitoes in order to reduce the mosquito population around your property- Make sure all screen doors and window screens are in tact

Mosquito surveillance and testing will continue through mid-September in Oneida County.

Oswego County has had 21 infected mosquito pools from various sites. They've had five cases of the disease in horses, two in dogs and one human case which resulted in the tragic death of a five-year-old girl who contracted EEE.

Onondaga County Health officials also found evidence of EEE and West Nile Virus this year.

NY state Sen. Patty Ritchie says she has written to the state's top health, agriculture, and environmental officials to get more information about the state's plans to fight EEE.

Sen. Ritchie says she would also like to hold a public forum to get the community's input on the extent of the problem. After hearing from experts, she says she would like to outline a plan to fight EEE next year, to keep tragedies from happening again.

"There's been concern that it's not contained to one county, and now with the news from Oneida County, it just proves that we need a more coordinated approach, and the state needs to get involved because it's a big issue," says Ritchie.

The Oneida County Director of Health released a statement in response to Ritchie's effort. It said, "The Oneida County Health Department supports Senator Ritchie's call for a forum to investigate what appears to be a growing statewide threat from mosquito-borne arboviruses that will focus on finding a truly effective means of dealing with this problem; an effective approach apart from the current aerial spraying that has a minimal impact on reducing the threat from these viruses, since it only knocks down the adult mosquito populations and does nothing to elimiate the eggs and larvae that quickly result in the subsequent generations of insects."