October 17, 2011 | Palladium Times
Ronnie Curtis photo State leaders, as well as various health, agricultural, veterinary and environmental experts gathered in the Education Center, in Oswego, for a roundtable forum that included discussion on how to combat eastern equine encephalitis.
Roundtable discussion brings the issue into focus
OSWEGO — Family members of 4-year-old New Haven resident Maggie Wilcox, who died in August after contracting eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), say that they must do everything possible to make sure what happened to Maggie does not happen to anybody else.
An EEE roundtable discussion that included input from state leaders and environmental, health, veterinary and agricultural experts, held in the Education Center, in Oswego, on Thursday, was a step in that direction, they said.
“Our whole goal is to make sure the public is aware, because so many people are not aware of what is happening and are not aware of what has happened and what they can do to prevent (EEE) and keep their family safe,” said Donna Wilcox, Maggie’s aunt, who attended the roundtable talk, which was sponsored by Sen. Patty Ritchie, R-Oswegatchie; Sen. David Valesky, D-Oneida; and Sen. Kemp Hannon, R-Garden City.
EEE, a mosquito-borne illness, has caused the deaths of five central New York residents, including three in the past three years. In August, New York State Department of Health Commissioner Nirav Shah declared an “imminent threat to public health” in Oswego County due to the presence of EEE. In July, the first two cases of EEE in Oswego County were reported in Toad Harbor/Big Bay Swamp, in Hastings and in Palermo. It was later detected in Central Square, Volney, Albion and Scriba. In August, additional positive reports turned up in the Toad Harbor Swamp area and a location near Paradise Road, in Palermo.
“State health and other officials have pledged to expand their mosquito disease response and control plan for next year, with more emphasis on finding and controlling outbreaks of the disease and the mosquitoes that carry it,” Ritchie said. “That’s good news for central New York, which has been ground zero for this disease for the past 40 years, and other counties in the state that have seen recent outbreaks, including St. Lawrence County.”