Human-biting EEE-infected mosquitoes found in Reading are first outside Southeastern Mass. and Cape Cod
Human-biting mosquitoes infected with eastern equine encephalitis have been detected in Reading -- the first time this season that EEE-carrying insects that can spread the often-fatal disease to people have been found outside of Cape Cod and Southeastern Massachusetts, which is traditionally a hotbed for the virus.
“This is very unusual to have EEE in Reading, let alone in mosquitoes that bite mammals,” said Ruth Clay, the town’s health director.
Mosquitoes infected with EEE have been found outside of Southeastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod this season, including Westborough and Pittsfield, but they are not the type that typically bites humans.
Clay said state health officials notified her late Thursday, and that town officials immediately put out a warning informing town residents via a reverse 9-1-1 call.
In addition, the East Middlesex Mosquito Control Project will be spraying pesticide across the town from trucks between dusk until about 11:30 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday evenings, weather permitting, Clay said.
The town has not cancelled outdoor evening activities because the risk of infection from mosquito bites is still considered moderate, Clay said. State health officials recommend cancellation when the risk level rises above moderate, which is determined by the number of infected mosquitoes that are found.
In Southeastern Massachusetts, where aerial pesticide spraying last month blanketed 21 communities after numerous batches of infected mosquitoes were detected, six of the cities and towns will be resprayed on Monday night, state health officials said Friday.
The July spraying reduced the mosquito populations by 60 percent in the areas covered, health officials said, but large numbers of the infected insects are still being seen in the region.
Bridgewater, Easton, Norton, Raynham, Taunton, and West Bridgewater will be sprayed between 7:45 p.m. Monday and 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, officials said in a statement.
Aerial spraying is heavily dependent on weather conditions, and spraying can be postponed up to the last minute -- so residents are urged to check the Department of Public Health website for the latest updates.
For information about spraying in Reading, residents can check the town’s website.
Aerial spraying of pesticides reduces but does not eliminate the risk of mosquito-borne illness, health officials said. All residents, whether inside or outside the spray zone, are urged to continue taking personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites. These include using insect repellent, covering exposed skin when outside, and avoiding outdoor activities between the hours of dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are at their most active.Kay Lazar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKayLazar.