A pool of mosquitoes collected last week in the area of Hampstead Street in Methuen — the east end of the city — has tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or EEE, city officials said.
The discovery followed the EEE death of a horse in the west end of Methuen on Monday of last week. Since then, Methuen's threat level for EEE has been raised to critical and neighboring communities, including Andover, have been taking precautions against the virus.
Crews have sprayed mosquito-killing substances in parts of Andover, and the town has also banned outdoor high school sports and other activities after dark.
Trucks equipped with mosquito-killing spray also made their way through Methuen's west end last Thursday night. Officials said Northeast Mosquito Control also planned mosquito spraying via trucks for the rest of Methuen, east of Interstate 93.
The Northeast Mosquito Control offers tips for residents, including keeping kids and pets indoors during spraying.
The organization says air conditioners can be left on, but windows on the street-facing side of homes should be closed. It is okay to resume to normal a half-hour after the spraying is completed.
Methuen Mayor James Jajuga urges residents to follow tips on how residents can protect themselves from mosquito bites: be aware of peak mosquito hours from dusk to dawn, consider rescheduling outdoor activities so they do not happen during the evening or early morning, wear pants and long-sleeve shirts, and use bug spray.
Officials encourage the use of repellent with DEET, permethrin, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus according to the instructions on the product label.
DEET products should not be used on infants under two months old 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 directly to skin.
People can prevent breeding areas for mosquitoes around homes by eliminating standing water, checking rain gutters and drains, and emptying unused flowerpots, wading pools and bird baths.
Methuen has already taken the step of ending all outdoor events and public school sports practices and games on city property at 7 p.m. until Sept. 30, and set a 6 p.m. stop time starting Oct. 1 through the first hard frost.
Any resident with questions or concerns can call the Methuen Emergency Operations Center at 978-382-3360.