There is a “significant risk to human health” in Chautauqua County from diseases carried by mosquitoes, according to a statement Wednesday by the county’s Department of Health and Human Services.
The county has detected the Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus in several mosquito pools. It is the first time the disease has been detected in Western New York, according to reports. The disease has been transferred to humans in five known cases since 1971. All proved fatal.
“Our efforts are focused on reducing the risk of any human cases of mosquito-borne disease,” said Christine Schuyler, the county’s public health director, citing the state Health Department’s recent declaration that there exists “an imminent threat to public health” in New York from mosquitoes.
“This means a robust education initiative to prevent mosquito bites and an active and effective surveillance system to determine the extent of the virus,” she said.
“While no human disease has been detected, the presence of mosquitoes carrying the EEE virus as well as the West Nile virus shows the potential is there for an infected mosquito to bite humans and spread disease.”
Infected mosquitoes were found in recent weeks in the Jamestown area. There also have been reports of infected mosquitoes found in Lincoln Township of the Niagara Region of Ontario and in Amherst, officials in both places reported.
Officials advise people to take necessary precautions to protect themselves from being bitten.
Those include cutting back weeds and tall grasses and dumping standing water around homes, repairing broken screens and protecting yourself outdoors by wearing a suitable insect repellent as well as long pants, long-sleeved shirts, shoes and socks during peak mosquito times – between dusk and dawn.