EEE threat spreads north  

file photoA public health technician displays mosquitoes trapped locally for testing as possible carriers of eastern equine encephalitis.

 

As Andover and other Merrimack Valley communities fight the EEE virus, Southern New Hampshire towns are joining the effort.

Health officials in Sandown and Hampstead were notified last week that mosquitoes in those communities tested positive for the potentially deadly virus.

To control the spread of infected mosquitoes, local towns on both side of the border — including Andover in Massachusetts and Salem, Hampstead and Sandown in New Hampshire — sprayed pesticides this week.

During spraying, people were warned to avoid being outside near the affected areas because of the amount of pesticides in the air. Nearby neighbors were told to close their windows.

In Andover, areas near West Parish and Ballardvale were sprayed last week.

Multiple parks and fields in Salem, New Hampshire, were closed last Thursday for spraying.

“Because (EEE) is right on the boarders (of town) we decided to do additional spraying,” Salem Health Officer Brian Lockard said.

The areas most communities focus on while spraying are close to wetlands, which are breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Health officials have asked residents to get rid of standing water on their property that could be in tires, kiddie pools or other containers where mosquitoes could breed.

“Mosquitoes only need a few days to a week to breed,” Lockard said. “People need to protect themselves, especially when mosquitoes are more active at dusk and dawn.”

Andover and several other local communities have set early evening curfews for outdoor events such as high school sports. Local health officials are also encouraging people to stay indoors after dark or, if they must go outside, to wear pants and long-sleeve shirts and use insect repellent.

Hampstead Health Officer Kristopher Emerson said the town has sprayed at several parks and fields.

In Sandown, spraying was scheduled for this week, according to Tom Tombarello, chairman of the Board of Selectmen.

“We don’t want anyone getting the disease,” Tombarello said, recalling a death several years ago in a nearby town.

Those infected with EEE appear to have flu-like symptoms, including fever, headache, weakness, and muscle and joint pains that appear within four to 10 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito, according to state health officials.

There is no treatment for the virus, which can cause more serious central nervous system infections such as meningitis or encephalitis — inflammation of the brain.

Local health officials began taking precautions to control the spread of infected mosquitoes after batches of insects in Methuen and Pelham tested positive in late August for EEE.

A horse has died from the disease in Methuen, but no human cases have been reported in the area.

 

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