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      West Nile virus found in five Onondaga County locations

      Onondaga County Health Commissioner, Dr. Cynthia B. Morrow, says that evidence of West Nile virus was found in five different locations in Onondaga County.

      The findings were in mosquito pools in the Town of Jordan, at Beaver Lake Nature Center in Town of Lysander, at the Clay Marsh in the Town of Clay, at Taft Road in the Town of Cicero, and at Oneida Shores Park in Brewerton.

      Morrow says the traps were collected between July 20 and July 26.

      "It is evident that West Nile virus is widespread and it is essential that the public take measures to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes," says Morrow. Dr. Morrow sees no need to spray swamps and other mosquitoe breeding areas yet because the outbreak is so widespread she does not feel spraying would be very effective.

      At Oneida Shores Park, Colleen O'Malley was watching over her two nieces who were visiting from Colorado. O'Malley told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon, "That's pretty upsetting because we were going to walk through the woods as part of our day and now we won't be doing that because of the advisory. We'll just stay at the water and leave before the bugs come out."

      The Health Department's Director of Environmental Health Assessment, Lisa Letteney pointed out that the actual number of mosquitoes carrying the West Nile Virus is lower than last year, but that may be the result of the hot, dry summer.

      The following are ways of helping to reduce mosquito breeding grounds: put away outdoor containers that can hold water including tires, wheelbarrows, and wading pools; drill holes in the bottoms of recycling containers that are kept outdoors; clean clogged rain gutters; change water in bird baths at least every four days; clear vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds, clean chlorinated swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs; drain water from pool covers; and use landscaping to eliminate low spots where standing water accumulates.

      In early July, the West Nile virus was found in a mosquito pool on Midler Avenue in Syracuse and in a trap in Oswego County .

      Health officials have also stepped up testing for the deadly eastern equine encephalitis virus this year, following the death of an Oswego County girl last summer. Officials say there is no evidence of the disease locally, but they point out that a horse died of EEE last week in Saint Lawrence County.

      For more information about West Nile or other mosquito-borne viruses, call the Onondaga County Health Department at 315-435-1649 or visit the New York State Department of Health web site.