Onondaga County health officials are advising residents to do their best to avoid mosquito bites after lab tests found the presence of Jamestown Canyon virus in two locations.
In a Wednesday news release, the county said that infected mosquitoes were found on Midler Avenue in Syracuse and Onondaga Lake Park in Liverpool. There have been no known human cases in Onondaga County, and this is the first finding of the virus in mosquitoes in the county since 2014.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the Jamestown Canyon virus is spread to people by infected mosquitoes. The virus is found throughout much of the United States, but most cases are reported from the upper Midwest. Most cases occur from late spring through mid-fall. Fever, headache, and fatigue are common symptoms, and the virus can rarely cause severe disease, including infection of the brain (encephalitis) or the lining around the brain (meningitis). Since there are no vaccines to prevent or medicines to treat Jamestown Canyon virus infection, the best course of action is to reduce the risk of infection by avoiding mosquito bites.
According to the CDC, there were four cases of Jamestown Canyon virus disease reported in New York state from 2010 to 2019.
The Onondaga County findings are a result of the health department’s mosquito surveillance and control program which collects and tests mosquitoes for viruses. The program also uses larvicides (insecticides) to control mosquito breeding in standing bodies of water. While this virus is rare, county said that the health department will report any future findings as part of its weekly mosquito pool testing.
The health department reminds residents to protect themselves from mosquito bites during outdoor activities by wearing shoes, light-colored socks, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck in your shirt and tuck pant legs into boots or socks, and consider using insect repellents containing DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and other products that have been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.