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July 7, 2014

N.H. towns spraying for mosquitoes

NH towns ready to take on mosquitoes

With Vermont’s first confirmed batch of Eastern equine encephalitis mosquitoes, New Hampshire towns are prepared to deal with population problems with the pesky pests.

The Vermont batch from June 17 was the earliest ever EEE has been detected in the Northeast, according to a statement from the Vermont Department of Health.

That could mean the virus is on its way to the Granite State, according to Hampstead health officer Keith Emerson.

“If it is in Vermont, there’s a pretty good possibility it will be found in New Hampshire somewhere,” he said.

Species collections began Tuesday for most types of mosquitoes and will continue to run through September, according to Abigail Mathewson of the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services.

“It’s a concern to see it that early,” she said. “We’ve never had anything test positive that early.”

New Hampshire doesn’t usually test for mosquitoes until July 1, and has not had a EEE death since 2005, but will keep communications open with surrounding states, Mathewson said.

“We keep each other informed about what positives we each have,” she said. “Every year, it’s different and every state is different each year, just based on local factors.”

Those factors include weather and landscape, she said.

Mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus breed in containers with stagnant water, meanwhile those that transmit EEE breed near swamps, Mathewson said.

But predicting mosquito patterns based on weather is a difficult thing to do.

“Both for tick and mosquito populations, rain is such an important part of their life cycle,” she said. “It makes it very difficult to predict what the season will be.”

Some local health officers said they are holding back on spraying.

In Hampstead, Dragon Mosquito Control — a mosquito control company used by many Southern New Hampshire towns — has been coming on a weekly basis to complete surveillance around town for mosquito populations and larvae.

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