In southeastern Massachusetts, mammal-biting mosquitoes carrying eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) have been found earlier-than-usual this summer.
SouthCoast Today reports:
Dr. Catherine Brown, [the] state public health veterinarian, said [last] week’s discovery of mammal-biters with EEE is the earliest — by three or four weeks — in more than a decade.
The Boston Globe adds:
State officials have listed Easton, Raynham, and Taunton as being at high risk for the virus, and residents in Southeastern Massachusetts are on edge as they reschedule evening activities, double up on bug spray, and clamor for town and state officials to spray their neighborhoods.
According to the Brockton Enterprise, by 3 p.m. Thursday — a day after the first EEE confirmation in Easton — “the Bristol County Mosquito Control Project had already logged 529 requests for ground spraying [of pesticides] from residents throughout Easton, Raynham, Taunton and other Bristol County communities.”
And on Monday, Raynham Selectman Joe Pacheco told our Newscast unit that his board is “in full support of aerial spraying [by the state].”
“Anything short of that is, in our opinion, not appropriate,” he said. “Last year we heard that it was too early in the season to spray, and then when the threat became real and took the life of a Raynham resident, it was too late in the season.”
In September, Raynham’s Martin Newfield, 80, died soon after contracting EEE.
State health officials haven’t decided when this year’s aerial spraying will begin.
The Globe adds:
For now, communities are left to manage the problem by providing ground-level mosquito spraying from trucks, which residents can request for their home and neighborhood.
State officials have said there’s no evidence that aerial spraying is more effective than ground-level spraying.
According to the Boston Herald, EEE is fatal in 40 to 50 percent of cases. The paper adds: “DPH epidemiologist Dr. Alfred DeMaria said 80 to 90 percent of people infected with EEE suffer severe neurological effects.”