By Brian Messenger
---- — METHUEN — Beginning today, the city will cancel evening outdoor activities on public property in response to a heightened threat of West Nile virus.
Mayor Stephen Zanni told the City Council last night that the cancellations will run through the remainder of the week and impact all evening outdoor after-school activities and other activities on town recreational properties.
The news comes as mosquito control workers were scheduled to spray pesticide last night in select parts of the city.
Zanni told councilors last night that the city’s West Nile virus risk has been upgraded from low to moderate.
“We want to keep on top of this issue,” Zanni said. “It’s something in our community now.”
Zanni said all outdoor activities scheduled to run after 6 p.m. will be cancelled or rescheduled, including Friday night’s Methuen High School football home game against Cambridge Rindge & Latin School.
The game has been rescheduled to 1:30 p.m. Friday.
On Friday, Massachusetts Department of Public Health officials found mosquitoes samples with the West Nile virus in the city for the second week in a row.
Last night, workers with Northeast Massachusetts Mosquito Control were scheduled to spray in all areas of the city west of Interstate 93 and a small area in the northeast corner of the city.
Public school properties and recreational fields were sprayed before school opened for the year. All of the city’s catch basins were also treated with larvicide.
On Sept. 9, spraying was done from Pelham Street to the Central Fire Station to the Marsh School, as well as Lowell Street from the Central Fire Station to the Forest Street intersection and also all of Forest Street.
Humans contract the West Nile virus when bitten by infected mosquitoes, with children and people over 50 at a higher risk of severe infection.
Methuen is not the only local city plagued with mosquitoes infected by the West Nile virus. Batches of mosquitoes that have tested positive have been found in Groveland, Haverhill, North Andover and the New Hampshire towns of Hampstead and Sandown.