Counties on watch for mosquito diseases

Staff Reporter

Onondaga and Tompkins counties both reported finding deadly mosquito viruses in the past few days, leaving Cortland County on the lookout for the same.
In a Thursday press release, the Onondaga County Health Department announced finding Eastern Equine Encephalitis (Triple E) in Cicero Swamp, and the following day Tompkins County officials said they found West Nile Virus in the town of Lansing.
Despite the close proximity to Cortland County, officials say that neither virus has been found in the county.
Cortland County Director of Environmental Health Audrey Lewis said that the county has found West Nile Virus in the past, and that the disease is an ongoing concern.
Triple E is less of a worry, she said.
“Cortland County doesn’t have the habitat within the environment where the kinds of mosquitoes that carry Triple E breed,” she said.
Gary Sauda, director of environmental health for Onondaga County, explained that the Culiseta Melanura mosquitoes carry the Triple E disease and breed in swampy areas. He added that Onondaga County found mosquitoes with the disease in the Cicero Swamp, but no one has been infected. He said that the county hopes to spray on either Monday or Tuesday to kill off the population of mosquitoes that are carrying the disease.
Triple E can be fatal in humans and horses, but can only be transmitted by mosquito bites.
According to the Onondaga County Health Department’s Web site, “symptoms can range from flu-like to encephalitis (swelling of the brain), coma and even death.”
Sauda said cases of humans contracting Triple E are rare, citing only about 220 instances nationwide in the last 20 years. In humans the mortality rate is 1 in 4, he said.
Although Triple E is not much of a threat for Cortland County, the West Nile Virus is still an active concern.
Unlike Triple E, West Nile Virus often shows few symptoms, except for possibly a slight fever, and can cause encephalitis.
Lewis said that the disease was first found in the county in 2000 and detected again in 2003 and 2005, each time in the months of August or September.
West Nile virus was first found in New York state in 1999, according to the state Health Department. Since 2000 there have been over 193 human cases of West Nile Virus statewide.
Cortland County officials are searching storm drains for mosquito larvae trying to find evidence of the disease.
“The catch basins are good breeding sites for mosquitoes,” Lewis said.
Lewis said that the department has not had many reports of dead crows, a sign of the disease, but is still on the lookout for any reports.
Lewis added that the heavy summer rainfall has served as both a positive and a negative for mosquito breeding. Lewis explained the rain has kept a supply of running water in the storm sewers, making it difficult for mosquitoes to breed there, but the standing water on properties creates new habitats.
She said there are preventive measures people can take, and that if a problem arises with the West Nile Virus, the county would use larvicide to kill off the mosquitoes
“There are three things people can do: Report dead crows, wear long pants and repellent and clean up standing water,” she said.
Lewis added that even small amounts of stagnant water, which can be found in places such as old tires, birdbaths and gardening buckets, are excellent breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
Tompkins County reported finding the West Nile Virus in traps set by the state Department of Health research team at Cornell University.
According to a press release issued Friday, the traps were set in a pool, which contained Culex-pipiens restuans mosquitoes, behind a home near the corner of Hanshaw and Warren Roads in the town of Lansing.
The director of environmental health for Tompkins County, Rick Ewald, said like Cortland County, Triple E is not a major concern for Tompkins County.
“It hasn’t been historically,” he said. “We’re not quite the mosquito haven that Onondaga is, which has mosquito populations that dwarf ours.”
Tompkins County is continuing its surveillance and submitting dead crows for analysis, the press release stated.



Program trains young leaders

Staff Reporter

HOMER — Effective leaders go far beyond barking commands at subordinates — they organize, they direct and, most importantly, they communicate.
The pilot program for the Summer Leadership Institute, sponsored by the Cortland County YMCA Youth and Government Program and the Homer Center for the Arts, ran from Monday through Friday in the afternoons this past week.
Twenty Cortland and Homer high school students attended the program at the Center for the Arts, where they learned the quirks of their own personalities and how to communicate with other types of people.
Pamela Strausser, president of Cosmos Hill Associates and senior human resources consultant at Cornell University, coached the students who would themselves be taking over the administration of the program next summer.
“Leadership takes many forms, and everybody needs those skills,” Strausser said as the youths worked together in small groups Tuesday, as they did for much of the week. “These things don’t come naturally to anybody, so I’m trying to teach them on several levels.”
The participants ranged from sophomores to seniors, and were nominated by teachers and advisors, said Janine Giordano, advisor to the YMCA’s Youth and Government Program and a teacher at Homer High School.



Company buys gas storage facility

Staff Reporter

HARFORD — A company that transports liquefied petroleum gas to retailers and wholesalers has bought an underground liquefied petroleum gas storage site in Harford.
TE Products Pipeline Co. L.P. (TEPPCO), a Houston-based company that is one of the largest publicly traded energy partnerships in the country, bought Harford Mills LPG Storage from New York LP Gas Storage Inc. for $7 million in July. The site is located on the west side of State Highway 200 in Harford.
The purchase covers almost 300 acres of land including wells of salt caverns about 3,000 feet underground and four utility buildings.
The salt caverns store the gas — which is a mixture of propane and butane produced from commercial propane — under pressure, keeping it in liquid form. Once the gas is prepared as fuel, it can be used to power vehicles, heat, cook and light rural areas.
TE spokeswoman Allison Nelson said the company will be investing $1 million to $1.5 million into the site. That includes updating meters, truck racks and piping connections. In the meantime, the storage caverns, which hold more than 25 million gallons worth of gas, are projected to grow naturally in size by almost 70 percent over the next 18 years.
The facility was constructed in the 1950s by Suburban Propane.