State Sen. Patty Ritchie says legislation she sponsored to help find a vaccine to prevent the deadly EEE (Eastern Equine Encephalitis) disease has passed the state Senate, according to a release from her office.
The measure will create the 21st Century Workgroup for Disease Elimination and Reduction within the state Department of Health. The group, comprising experts in diseases, infection and public health, will be tasked with pushing for the development of effective vaccines against diseases, including EEE, West Nile Virus and Lyme disease. Included in the new state budget is $100,000 to fund the new workgroup, the release says.
“In Central New York, we’ve seen firsthand the deadly effects of diseases like EEE. While they have been devastating, they have also served as reminders that we need to be vigilant in our fight against EEE and similar diseases to help prevent future tragedies,” Ritchie said. “When it comes to modern medicine, vaccines are tremendous public health tools. Through the 21st Century Workgroup for Disease Elimination, experts at the top of their field will work towards developing vaccines that will help save lives.”
EEE affects horses and other livestock, and rarely occurs in humans. Five human deaths in New York since 1971 all have occurred in Oswego and Onondaga Counties, while dozens of horses have succumbed to the virus, according to the release.
Over three years, Senator Ritchie has secured a total of $700,000 in additional state budget funds for EEE prevention. This includes support this year for programs to educate children and families about the dangers of EEE, free tire recycling events, a low-cost vaccination program for horses and additional mosquito control efforts, the statement says.