• Mass. launches third extensive round of mosquito spraying

    Updated:

    BOSTON - Massachusetts has launched a new round of spraying against mosquitos.

    Planes will blanket almost the entirety of eastern Massachusetts by the end of the week in what's become an all-out attack offensive maneuver against mosquitos as a deadly outbreak of a rare, mosquito-borne virus takes hold in the Commonwealth. 

    Is mosquito spraying dangerous?

    The Massachusetts Department of Public Health sent out the following:

    The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) are urging residents throughout the Commonwealth to continue to take personal precautions to prevent mosquito bites as they announced additional aerial spraying for mosquitoes in areas of the state at critical and high risk for the Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus. 

    MDAR is doing aerial spraying into next week in parts of Middlesex, Worcester, and Norfolk counties. While aerial spraying is weather and equipment dependent, above-average evening temperatures this week are likely to permit the application.

    Overall, about 550,000 acres will be covered. 

    Communities that are scheduled to be partially or fully sprayed over the next week include:

    • Norfolk County: Bellingham, Franklin, Medway, Millis, Norfolk, Medfield, Walpole, Wrentham, Foxborough, Sharon, Norwood, Westwood, Dover, Needham, Wellesley
    • Middlesex County: Ashland, Hopkinton, Holliston, Sherborn, Framingham, Natick, Wayland, Sudbury, Maynard, Stow, Hudson, Marlborough, Weston
    • Worcester County: Berlin, Boylston, Northborough, Westborough, Shrewsbury, Grafton, Upton, Milford, Hopedale, Mendon, Blackstone, Millville, Uxbridge, Douglas, Northbridge, Sutton, Millbury, Auburn, Oxford, Webster, Southborough, Bolton, Clinton, West Boylston, Worcester, Charlton, Dudley, Leicester, Harvard

    As weather, temperature, and equipment conditions permit, plans for subsequent rounds of spraying will include critical and high-risk communities in the counties of Bristol, Essex, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire and Plymouth. Residents are encouraged to visit the DPH website at https://www.mass.gov/eee for the latest updates on spraying in their communities.

    So far this season, Massachusetts has had eight human cases of EEE. One person has died. There have also been nine confirmed cases of EEE this year in animals, including eight horses and a goat.

    There are 36 communities now at critical risk, 42 at high risk, and 115 at moderate risk for the EEE virus in Massachusetts. A map of the state's current EEE risk levels can be found here.

    "Even as temperatures cool, it's vitally important for us to remember that mosquito season is not over and that we all need to continue to take steps to prevent mosquito bites," said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH. "Use bug spray, wear long sleeves and pants to reduce exposed skin, and stay indoors from dusk to dawn when mosquitoes are most active."

    "We continue to urge the public to protect themselves from this disease by using mosquito repellent and taking other precautions, and for those in high and critical risk areas, by rescheduling outdoor activities during evening hours," said MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux. "In addition to these precautions, we will be conducting additional aerial spraying and supporting the use of truck-based ground spraying to reduce the numbers of infected adult mosquitoes left flying at this point in the season." 

    Last month, MDAR conducted aerial mosquito spraying in parts of Bristol, Plymouth, Middlesex, and Worcester counties to help reduce the public health risk. Meanwhile local communities are continuing truck-mounted ground spraying for mosquitoes. Spraying for mosquitoes does not eliminate the risk of EEE transmission and the public is asked to continue to follow personal protection practices.

    Residents can learn more about EEE and ways to protect themselves on DPH's website here.

    EEE is a rare but serious and potentially fatal disease that can affect people of all ages. EEE occurs sporadically in Massachusetts with the most recent outbreak years occurring from 2004-2006 and 2010-2012. There were 22 human cases of EEE infection during those two outbreak periods with 14 cases occurring among residents of Bristol and Plymouth counties.

    EEE virus has been found in 400 mosquito samples this year, many of them from species of mosquitoes capable of spreading the virus to people. 

    Towns piling up anti-mosquito precautions amid panic over EEE cases

    Next Up: