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

Sudbury to spray for mosquitoes after 5-year-old girl contracts EEE

ASHLAND, Mass. — Many Fall events have had to change schedules to reduce the risk of attendees contracting a deadly, mosquito-borne virus.

Some sporting events have been scheduled earlier than usual while others have been ending earlier to prevent crowds from being out when mosquitoes are most active.

Even though temperatures are dropping, the risk for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) will continue until the first hard frost.

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In Ashland, where one man was diagnosed with the disease, the Dragonfly Festival was moved earlier to ensure it ended before dusk.

"Town-wide, what we’ve done is mandated that all events on town property end at dusk," Ashland Town Manager Michael Herbert said Saturday evening. "Currently, that is 7:15. It will incrementally go down by 15 minutes as it gets darker earlier."

The man diagnosed with the disease in Ashland is one of seven human cases of EEE across the Commonwealth this year.

"What I can say is that this person did contract it in Ashland, but it did happen before the aerial spraying event that happened in August, and we are going to work with the family to offer any assistance that we can," Herbert said.

A woman in Fairhaven died of the disease earlier this year and a 5-year-old Sudbury girl is in the hospital in critical condition with the virus.

Parents say they are taking precautions.

"We have a baby girl, and we want to make sure that she's not exposed to getting bitten by mosquitoes, we know some areas have been sprayed, so we are okay to a certain extent, we have her covered up," Holliston parent Ryan Fernandes said.

Many say at this point, they know the routine to stay safe, but even police officers are taking extra precautions.

"We’ve authorized long sleeve shirts and jackets early for the officers, and we’ve authorized each cruiser with the deet bug spray and instructed the officers to be careful," Ashland Police Chief Vincent Alfano said.

Ground spraying is expected to continue in Ashland again on Monday.