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August 8, 2013

Sandown mosquitoes test positive for West Nile

Town plans to spray tonight if not raining

SANDOWN — The timing couldn’t be much worse. With Old Home Days about to kick off tomorrow night, town officials learned a mosquito batch tested positive for West Nile virus.

Dragon Mosquito Control plans to spray tonight from 5:30 to 9:30 — if it doesn’t rain, company owner Sarah McGregor said.

It’s the second positive test for West Nile in Southern New Hampshire this summer. On July 26, two mosquito batches trapped in Pelham tested positive for the disease.

But, McGregor said yesterday, this is just “the tip of the iceberg.”

Last year, 41 mosquito batches tested positive for West Nile, a big spike from recent years, when positive tests never reached double digits. There was one human case last year in Manchester, where 31 of the positive mosquito batches were trapped.

For Sandown, officials are doing what they can to protect people before the celebration starts — with a ham-and-bean summer tomorrow night, all-day events Saturday and a nondenominational service at the Old Meeting House Sunday.

“We’ve just got to do as much as we can,” Town Administrator Lynne Blaisdell said yesterday.

That includes getting the word out — on the town website, local cable channel, posting the areas to be sprayed and putting up signs around town.

Sandown voters approved spending $25,500 this year for mosquito surveillance and control, Blaisdell said. That would cover surveillance, larvaciding and one adulticizing, she said.

“Obviously, if we have anything happen again, we’ll have to find the money elsewhere,” she said.

Selectmen learned of the test results Monday and authorized the emergency spraying that evening.

“It’s actually early for us. We anticipate we’ll have to do one more spraying,” Selectmen’s Chairmen Thomas Tombarello said. “Hopefully, that’s not the case. But this is smart money.”

No West Nile virus was found in Sandown last year, but one mosquito batch tested positive for Eastern equine encephalitis. Statewide, nine mosquito batches tested positive for EEE in 2012, as well as four animals. There has not been a human case of EEE here since 2009.

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