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Health officials caution residents about Eastern Equine Encephalitis

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CANTON - Health officials are warning residents to take precautions against Eastern equine encephalitis, which last year killed a child in Oswego County and a horse in St. Lawrence County.

In the last three years, there have been three deaths in Central New York owing to the EEE virus, which is carried by mosquitoes. The virus is rarely transmitted to people but can cause serious illness or death.

The state Department of Health will begin its mosquito surveillance program May 28 to determine where EEE virus might be present and work with affected counties on control.

People who are infected with EEE may suffer a range of symptoms, from a mild, flu-like illness to more serious complications such as seizures and coma.

People should protect themselves when outdoors by using mosquito repellent and wearing long pants and long sleeves. Insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus is recommended.

Repellents containing oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under age 3. Products containing DEET should not be used on infants under 2 months of age. For children older than 2 months, the recommendation is for products containing 10 percent to 30 percent DEET.

Residents also are advised to reduce the number of mosquitoes around their properties, including eliminating standing water in yards and making sure all screens are in good repair.

Residents should:

■ Dispose of used tires, tin cans, and containers in which water collects.

■ Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers that are kept outdoors. Roof gutters should be cleaned of clogs and should drain properly.

■ Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.

■ Change the water in bird baths twice a week.

■ Clean vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds.

■ Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs, and drain water from pool covers.

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