More mosquitos are testing positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in Massachusetts, including in Methuen and Cape Cod.
On Friday, the Methuen Health Department was notified that a pool of mosquitoes in the Hampstead Street area tested positive for the EEE virus. This comes after horses in Methuen tested positive for EEE earlier in the week. The threat level for the virus was raised to critical after seven horses and four people tested positive for EEE across the state.
The mosquitoes tested in Methuen were trapped on August 27th.
On Friday, the Cape Cod National Seashore issued an advisory after mosquitos in and around the Cape tested positive for both EEE and West Nile Virus.
As of Friday, August 30, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has denoted 28 communities as being at critical risk for the virus.
City-wide mosquito spraying campaigns have been launched all over the Commonwealth to suppress the booming population of the insect.
EEE is primarily spread by mosquitos that have come into contact with the virus. The insect's population has been flourishing due to the exceedingly wet conditions through this year's spring and summer.
According to an EEE guide on Mass.gov, the types of mosquitoes most likely to transmit EEE virus are likely to be out searching for food (an animal to bite) at dusk, which is the time period between when the sun sets and it gets completely dark. The exact timing of this increased activity is influenced by many factors including temperature, cloud cover, wind and precipitation and cannot be predicted precisely for any given day so it's important to take extra precaution during the evening hours.
What can you do to protect yourself from EEE?
Since the virus that causes EEE is spread by mosquitoes, here are some things you can do to reduce your chances of being bitten.
- Avoid outdoor events in the hours between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
- When you are outdoors, wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and socks.
- Use a repellent with DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), IR3535 (3-[N-butyl-N-acetyl]-aminopropionic acid) or oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-Menthane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] according to the instructions given on the product label. DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age and should be used in concentrations of 30% or less on older children.
- Keep mosquitoes out of your house by repairing any holes in your screens and making sure they are tightly attached to all your doors and windows.
- Remove areas of standing water around your home.
- Keep swimming pools clean and properly chlorinated; remove standing water from pool covers.
For more information, read this fact sheet about EEE.
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