Mosquito spraying underway across Southeastern Massachusetts

SE Mass

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — There are still no signs of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) or West Nile virus in Rhode Island, according to the R.I. Department of Environmental Management, but it’s a different story in neighboring Massachusetts.

All 121 mosquito samples from traps set across Rhode Island on July 29 tested negative for both of the viruses.

In the meantime, 22 communities in Bristol and Plymouth Counties in Massachusetts have been deemed high-risk for EEE.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis, more commonly know as EEE, is a rare cause of brain infections (encephalitis). Only a few cases are reported in the United States each year. Most occur in eastern or Gulf Coast states. Approximately 30% of people with EEE die and many survivors have ongoing neurologic problems.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Learn more about EEE symptoms, prevention »

Massachusetts health officials are taking the offensive to prevent the spread of the virus by using airplanes to spray a pesticide across the affected communities.

This aerial application is more common than you may think; it was previously done in 2006, 2010, and 2012.

“What really triggers a consideration of an aerial intervention is that we have multiple communities that are considered to be at a high-risk for a human case,” Massachusetts’ state epidemiologist Dr. Catherine Brown explained.

Health officials say it takes a teaspoon of the pesticide to treat an area the size of a football field. The pesticide poses no harm to a person’s health, just mosquitoes.

As of this week, EEE has been detected in a sample collected in New Bedford.

According to a statement from New Bedford City Hall, targeted grown spraying began Friday morning. Areas being targeted are public parks and locations that host large public events:

  • Buttonwoods Park
  • Brooklawn Park
  • Fort Taber
  • Hazelwood Park
  • Riverside Park
  • Clasky Common Park
  • Ashley Park
  • The Poor Farm Area
  • Custom House Square
  • The downtown area

Additional spraying will occur on the morning of Tuesday, Aug. 13:

  • The far north end of the City of New Bedford
  • New Bedford Business Park
  • New Bedford Regional Airport
  • Sassaquin Pond
  • Acushnet Avenue, north of Phillips Avenue

No human or animal cases of EEE have been detected so far this year.

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