EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Aerial spraying has been scheduled after 22 Massachusetts communities were found to be at high risk for the mosquito-borne illness, Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).
The first spraying for parts of Bristol County is slated for Thursday evening, according to the Massachusetts Department of Health.
The goal of aerial spraying is to reduce the population of mosquitoes and the risk of EEE.
EEE is a rare, but potentially deadly, disease that attacks the brain. The last human case of EEE in Massachusetts was in 2013, and health officials hope to keep it that way.
“We’ll never reduce the risk to zero, so people still need to make sure that they take precautions,” Superintendent of the Bristol County Mosquito Control Project Priscilla Matton said.
Communities entirely within the spray zone include:
- Bristol County: Raynham, Taunton, Dighton, Berkley, Freetown, Acushnet
- Plymouth County: Whitman, East Bridgewater, West Bridgewater, Hanson Bridgewater, Halifax, Plympton, Kingston, Carver, Middleborough, Lakeville, Rochester
Communities partially within the spray zone include:
- Bristol County: Easton, Norton, Rehoboth, Swansea, Fall River, Dartmouth, New Bedford, Fairhaven
- Plymouth County: Brockton, Rockland, Hanover, Pembroke, Duxbury, Plymouth, Wareham, Marion, Mattapoisett
Those who live entirely or partially within the spray zone do not have to take any special precautions before aerial spraying begins, according to the Massachusetts Department of Health.
Health officials said residents should consider keeping their pets inside and covering any ornamental ponds during the spraying.
In New Bedford, organizers postponed Tuesday’s “National Night Out” until later in the month as a precaution. The event will now take place on Aug. 20 from 1-4 p.m.
Organizers for Fairhaven’s “National Night Out” decided to go on as planned Tuesday, but decided to end the event an hour early.
In Rochester, all beaches, parks, ball fields and town events will now close 30 minutes before dusk, with the intention of keeping people indoors during peak mosquito hours.
Health officials are also reminding everyone to take precautions when spending time outside while the weather is warm.
“We have to make sure that we stay vigilant all the way up to even October now that we get those warmer falls,” Matton said.
Here are some recommendations on how to protect yourself from mosquito bites:
- Dump out any standing water near your home.
- Use screens on windows or air conditioning to keep them outside.
- Use mosquito repellent that contains DEET.
- Avoid being outside during peak biting hours – usually between dusk and dawn.
- Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and high socks if you’re outside during peak biting hours.