By John Toole
---- — PELHAM — West Nile virus is here.
Pelham is the first town in the state this year where testing confirmed West Nile virus in mosquitoes.
Selectmen and the town Board of Health announced yesterday the state had informed them two mosquitoes tested positive for the virus.
“Our contractor, Municipal Pest Management, will be performing emergency spraying within the next couple of days, weather permitting, at all town parks, schools, playgrounds and fields,” the boards said.
The company’s director of operations, Steve Freeman, said spraying could begin as soon as today.
The effects of the application should last three or four weeks, he said.
“We are working on it now, trying to figure out the schedule,” he said.
People can direct questions to Municipal Pest Management Services Inc. at 431-0008.
Chris Adamski, chief of the state’s Bureau of Infectious Disease Control, said Pelham is the first and only New Hampshire town so far where testing has confirmed West Nile virus.
The virus’s appearance is not a surprise.
“This is absolutely expected,” Adamski said.
But Freeman thought it was ahead of schedule.
“It is early,” Freeman said. “Usually we spray later in August. This is not a good sign.”
Adamski said it’s too soon to say what kind of year this will be for West Nile.
“Last year was a very big year for West Nile in many states,” she said.
In 2012, New Hampshire had nine mosquito batches and four animals test positive for EEE. There were no human cases.
But the biggest numbers were with West Nile virus. New Hampshire had 41 mosquito batches test positive for the virus and one human case.
Town officials urged people to wear protective clothing such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts and socks when mosquitoes are active in the early evening, at night and dawn hours.
They also recommended people use a repellent, such as one including DEET.
West Nile virus can cause brain and spinal cord inflammation and has been fatal. The federal Centers for Disease Control estimates one in five people bitten will come down with at least a fever.
Health officials encourage people to eliminate standing water, when possible, around their homes.
“Taking necessary precautions is so important,” Adamski said.
West Nile virus will be a concern until early October and the state will continue testing, she said.
The state so far has not reported any mosquitoes testing positive for Eastern equine encephalitis this season.
For more information on West Nile and EEE, visit dhhs.nh.gov.