State to begin aerial spraying against EEE-infected mosquitoes in southeastern Mass.
State health officials announced Tuesday afternoon that they would begin aerial spraying against mosquitoes in 11 cities and towns in southeastern Massachusetts to prevent residents from being infected with eastern equine encephalitis.
The decision was made after numerous additional human-biting mosquitoes were found infected with EEE in Easton, where infected insects were also found last week, and in Lakeville. EEE can cause serious disease and even death.
No human cases have been reported this year in the state, but two people acquired EEE infections last year, including a Raynham man who died. That case and the large number of infected mosquitoes in the past two years led the Department of Public Health to adopt a more aggressive response plan against EEE and also West Nile virus, which is also transmitted to humans through bites from infected mosquitoes.
Spraying will occur in these communities: Bridgewater, Carver, Easton, Halifax, Lakeville, Middleborough, Norton, Plympton, Raynham, Taunton, and West Bridgewater. Residents are urged to check the DPH website for updates.
Here’s the full health department news release.
STATE HEALTH OFFICIALS ANNOUNCE PLANS TO CONDUCT AERIAL SPRAYING IN SECTIONS OF SOUTHEASTERN MASSACHUSETTS
Decision follows detection of additional EEE-positive mosquito pools in Easton
BOSTON – The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced that aerial spraying for mosquitoes will take place in 11 cities and towns in southeastern Massachusetts including Bridgewater, Carver, Easton, Halifax, Lakeville, Middleborough, Norton, Plympton, Raynham, Taunton, and West Bridgewater. Residents are encouraged to check the DPH website at www.mass.gov/dph for updates.
Officials made the decision based on today’s findings of numerous additional EEE-positive mosquito pools collected from a site in Easton where EEE-positive mosquito samples were also found last week.
The state is currently working to procure the insecticides and planes needed to conduct aerial spraying in these communities. Spraying will begin as soon as possible and will follow appropriate public notification and outreach. The final timeline will be determined by tomorrow.
“It’s important to note that aerial spraying can only reduce but not eliminate the threat of mosquito-borne illness in the areas that are sprayed,” said DPH Commissioner John Auerbach. “That’s why it’s so important for individuals in these communities to continue to take personal precautions against mosquito bites – both before and after aerial spraying is conducted.”
Health officials will continue to conduct enhanced mosquito sampling in the coming days and have already increased ground spraying activities. Residents are encouraged to continue checking local media and the DPH website at www.mass.gov/dph for further details and updates.
There have been no human cases of West Nile virus (WNV) or EEE so far this year. There were two cases of EEE in August of last year acquired in Massachusetts; a fatal case in a Bristol
County man and an infection in a tourist from out of state. EEE activity in both 2010 and 2011 raised public concern and prompted DPH to work with a panel of experts to evaluate and enhance the state’s surveillance and response program. EEE is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. EEE is a serious disease in all ages and can even cause death.
People have an important role to play in protecting themselves and their loved ones from illnesses caused by mosquitoes.
Avoid Mosquito Bites
Apply Insect Repellent when Outdoors. Use a repellent with 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.
Be Aware of Peak Mosquito Hours. The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning.
Clothing Can Help Reduce Mosquito Bites. Wearing long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.
Mosquito-Proof Your Home
Drain Standing Water. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by either draining or discarding items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty any unused flowerpots and wading pools, and change water in birdbaths frequently.
Install or Repair Screens. Keep mosquitoes outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all of your 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 provide excellent mosquito breeding habitats and should be flushed out at
least once a week during the summer months to reduce mosquitoes near paddock areas. Horse owners should keep horses in indoor stalls at night to reduce their risk of exposure to mosquitoes. If an animal is diagnosed with WNV or EEE, owners are required to report to DAR, Division of Animal Health by calling 617-626-1795 and to the Department of Public Health (DPH) by calling 617-983-6800.
More information, including all WNV and EEE positive results from 2012, can be found on the Arbovirus Surveillance Information web page at www.mass.gov/dph/wnv or by calling the DPH Epidemiology Program at 617-983-6800. The findings of the DPH Eastern Equine Encephalitis Expert Panel can be found here.Gideon Gil can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globegideon
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|White Coat Notes covers the latest from the health care industry, hospitals, doctors offices, labs, insurers, and the corridors of government. Chelsea Conaboy previously covered health care for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @cconaboy.|
Gideon Gil, Health and Science Editor
Elizabeth Comeau, Senior Health Producer