County Legislator Tim Burtis announced Monday that he is requesting legislative approval of $42,100 to administer a second aerial spraying of the Cicero Swamp. Typically, the county sprays once a year.
The swamp was sprayed July 10 after mosquitoes carrying Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) were detected July 2 in a trap near the swamp.
Burtis made his announcement at the Island Road home of Denise Broton, an EEE survivor who contracted the virus in 2014. Broton is still struggling with the effects of a brain injury due to the swelling caused by EEE, and she has become an advocate for Onondaga County’s efforts to control mosquitoes and the dangerous illnesses they can carry.
Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon said the $42,100 was already built into the county’s budget this year in case a second application is needed.
While spraying the swamp with the pesticide Anvil 10+10 can reduce the spread of EEE by knocking out mosquito populations, the insects rebound within seven to 10 days.
“The point is to try to interrupt the virus cycle,” said Lisa Letteney, director of environmental health for the Onondaga County Health Department.
Spraying temporarily reduces the risk of contracting EEE. Letteney said frequent spraying would contribute to the growth of populations of mosquitoes that are resistant to Anvil 10+10.
Letteney said this year’s unusually wet weather has contributed to the spike in the mosquito population. She said the county normally does not detect EEE until later in the summer. This year, the county first found mosquitoes carrying EEE June 25.
Burtis and Broton stressed the importance of personal protection as the first line of defense against mosquitoes.
“As a longtime resident of this area, I take precautionary measures seriously, especially at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most prevalent,” Burtis said. “To be safe, remove standing water from your yard, make sure all windows and doors have screens and use EPA-registered insect repellent.”
Broton said she is still recovering from EEE, and she is cautious about future exposure.
“Mosquitoes are not just out in the morning and the evening. They’re out all day,” she said. “I don’t even go to the mailbox without spraying myself.”
Cicero Town Supervisor Jessica Zambrano said the town works to maintain drainage ditches to reduce mosquito breeding, but the town is not authorized to spray for mosquitoes. Zambrano said residents must do their part too.
“If [drainage ditches] are on their property, they’ve got to keep those ditches clean,” she said.
“It has to be a community effort,” said Town Councilor Mark Venesky.
Jody Rogers, the town’s director of parks and recreation, said the town has worked extensively to control beavers in Central Park. Beaver dams allow water to accumulate, providing breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
“We’d been working almost two weeks to … let the water recede,” she said.
Rogers said her staff also picks up trash and has worked with the Cicero Little League and Cicero Falcons Pop Warner football team to rearrange activity schedules around the times of spraying.
Letteney said the county notifies residents of upcoming spraying through press releases, signs, “reverse 911” calls and updates on Facebook, Twitter and the health department’s website. Reverse 911 is only available for landline phones, so Letteney said residents without landlines can sign up for social media updates.
To learn more about the county’s efforts to control mosquitoes, visit ongov.net/health/mosquitoborne.html or call the health department at 435-1649.
Ashley M. Casey is a reporter for The Baldwinsville Messenger and The Eagle Star-Review. She graduated from Le Moyne College in 2012 and previously worked for the Scotsman Press.