|Pittsfield Spraying After EEE Virus Found In Mosquito|
|City of Pittsfield, |
11:46AM / Friday, July 27, 2012
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city will begin spraying an insecticide Friday night after the state Department of Public Health detected Eastern equine encephalitis virus in bird-biting mosquitoes collected from Pittsfield.
The infected mosquito was found among a group of specimens that were trapped in the Williams Street area. The city plans to heavily treat that area with insecticides. Larvacide will be used to reduce the mosquito populations at the breeding site and adulticide will be used to reduce the adult population when they are active.
The adulticide will be applied by a truck-mounted spray nozzle beginning after dark on Friday, and continue in the evenings and before dawn throughout the weekend.
“This source of application is the most effective way to reduce the adult mosquito population in a well-developed urban area such as Pittsfield,” said Merridith O'Leary, Pittsfield’s public health director.
EEE is a rare but serious illness spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. While EEE can infect people of all ages, those under15 years of age or over 50 years of age are at greatest risk for serious illness.
"Sporadic findings of EEE in bird-biting mosquitoes can occur across Massachusetts and do not necessarily represent significant risk of disease,” O'Leary said. "Only southeastern Massachusetts has seen significant EEE activity so far this year. However, this is a good reminder that it is important for people to practice personal prevention to protect themselves."
The city of Pittsfield has been part of the Berkshire County Mosquito Control Project since the middle of last year. Prior to that, very few mosquito specimens were ever tested from Berkshire County. Last week, a second finding of West Nile virus was confirmed in a mosquito.
"Since testing is relatively new in Pittsfield, it is very hard to interpret the data that we are receiving from the pools of mosquito specimens that are being sent for testing,” O’Leary said. “Without any historical data, we do not know if the presence of the West Nile virus and the EEE virus in our mosquitos is new or has always been present to an extent."
The Pittsfield Board of Health and Berkshire County Mosquito Control Project will continue to work closely with the MDPH and other agencies. Locally, the board will continue efforts to provide targeted education programs, health fairs, distribution of fact sheets on EEE and informati0n on how to reduce exposure.
It is very important that city residents use precautions to protect themselves and their loved ones. The Board of Health recommends:
• Be aware of peak mosquito hours
The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. The Department of Public Health strongly recommends that all outdoor activities be curtailed during the hours surrounding dawn and dusk. If you are outdoors at any time and notice mosquitoes around you, take steps to avoid being bitten by moving indoors, covering up and/or wearing repellant.
• Clothing can help reduce mosquito bites
Although it may be difficult when it’s hot, wearing long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.
• Apply insect repellent when you go outdoors
Use a repellent with DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-methane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] according to the instructions on the product label. DEET products should not be used on infants under 2 months of age and should be used in concentrations of 30 percent or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age. Permethrin products are intended for use on items such as clothing, shoes, bed nets and camping gear and should not be applied to skin.
• Mosquito-proof your Home
Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by either draining or getting rid of items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty any unused flowerpots and wading pools, and change water in birdbaths frequently.
Some mosquitoes like to come indoors. Keep them outside by having tightly fitting screens on all of your windows and doors.