BOSTON (WPRI) — Aerial spraying for mosquitoes will be conducted in parts of Southeastern Massachusetts due to elevated risk of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) starting Monday night.
EEE is generally spread to humans through the bite of a mosquito infected with the virus. While health officials say EEE can cause severe illness and possibly lead to death in any age group, people under age 15 are at particular risk.
The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) says there are 25 communities in the spray zone in Plymouth and Bristol counties.
Plymouth County: Bridgewater, Carver, Duxbury, East Bridgewater, Halifax, Hanover, Hanson, Kingston, Lakeville, Marion, Mattapoisett, Middleborough, Norwell, Pembroke, Plymouth, Plympton, Rochester, Rockland, Wareham, West Bridgewater, and Whitman.
Bristol County: Acushnet, Easton, Raynham, and Taunton.
Officials say since the spraying only reduces the risk of transmission, not eliminate, to continue to take personal precautions against the mosquito-borne illnesses.
So far this year, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) has reported 12 communities in southeastern Massachusetts at moderate to critical risk for EEE. The first human case in Massachusetts was reported August 3 in Plymouth County with a male under the age of 18.
Bridgewater and Halifax were raised to the “high” risk level by the DPH on Monday afternoon, while East Bridgewater, Hanson, Pembroke, and West Bridgewater were raised to “moderate” risk.
Last year, Massachusetts reported its most active EEE season since 1956, with 12 human cases and 6 deaths from EEE. Mass. DPH says EEE does not occur every year but based on mosquito sampling, “a high risk of occurrence of human cases currently exists.”
Spraying will continue over several nights this week, weather dependent. Officials say there are no health risks expected during or after spraying.
While no special precautions are recommended, residents can reduce exposure by staying indoors during spraying. Aerial spraying is not expected to have any impacts on surface water or drinking water.
Homeowners are advised to cover small ornamental fishponds and keep pets inside during the night of spraying.
Avoid Mosquito Bites
- Use an insect repellent with an EPA-registered ingredient (DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-methane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] or IR3535) according to the instructions on the product label. DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age and should be used in concentrations of 30% or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age.
- The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning in areas of high risk.
- Wearing long sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.
Mosquito-Proof Your Home
- Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water, so residents are advised to limit the number of places around the home for mosquitoes to breed by either draining or discarding items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains, empty unused flowerpots or wading pools and change the water in birdbaths frequently.
- Keep mosquitoes outside by having tightly-fitting screens on windows and doors.
Protect Your Animals
- Animal owners should reduce potential mosquito breeding sites on their property by eliminating standing water from containers such as buckets, tires, and wading pools, especially after heavy rains. Water troughs should be flushed out at least once a week during the summer months and horse owners should keep horses in indoor stalls at night to reduce their risk of exposure to mosquitoes.
- Owners should speak with their veterinarian about mosquito repellents approved for use in animals and vaccinations to prevent West Nile virus (WNV) and EEE. If an animal is suspected of having WNV or EEE, owners are required to report to MDAR, Division of Animal Health by calling 617-626-1795 and to DPH by calling (617) 983-6800.
Information including all WNV and EEE positive results can be found on the Arbovirus Surveillance Information web page or by calling the DPH Epidemiology Program at (617) 983-6800.