EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

July 24, 2013

West Nile found in Newbury mosquito

By Jennifer Solis

---- — NEWBURY — A mosquito pool in town has tested positive for West Nile virus, according to a spokesperson from the town’s health department. The infected mosquito was discovered on July 17.

Health inspector Virginia Bacon said yesterday that the state Department of Public Health notified the Newbury Board of Health of the positive finding on Friday. The state does not identify the location of their mosquito traps.

A mosquito “pool” refers to a collection of mosquitoes from a particular area that is tested for the virus.

In response to the finding, Newbury officials conducted a mosquito spraying on Monday. Residents seeking additional protection may have their property sprayed, free of charge, by contacting the Northeast Massachusetts Mosquito Control and Wetlands Managment District at 978-463-6630.

State Department of Public Health spokeswoman Anne Roach said yesterday that Newbury was one of nine communities where West Nile virus has been found. The other towns are Belmont, Fall River, Lynn, Pittsfield, Sharon, Waltham, Westport and Whitman.

“No risk levels have changed,” Roach wrote in an email yesterday. “This number of findings at this point in the season is very typical. However, these geographically widespread findings indicate that West Nile virus is circulating throughout the commonwealth and is not confined to municipalities where infected mosquitoes have been found.”

The state first identified mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus on June 25, after a surveillance program began on June 17. Testing occurs five days a week, Roach added, and evidence indicates that the virus is established in the United States now, and residents should expect to see some West Nile virus activity occur each year.

“So far, there have been no findings of EEE (Eastern equine encephalitis) this season,” Roach wrote.

More information is available on the DPH website: www.mass.gov/dph/mosquito. Information about West Nile virus and EEE is also available by calling the epidemiology program at 617-983-6800.

Safety Tips The state DPH and the Newbury Board of Health urge residents to take important steps to protect themselves against mosquito-borne illnesses, such as West Nile virus. These steps include: Apply insect repellent when outdoors and use a repellent with DEET. DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age. Be aware of peak mosquito hours. The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning. Wear long-sleeved clothing, long pants and socks when outdoors during peak mosquito times. Drain standing water. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by either draining or discarding items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty any unused flowerpots and wading pools, and change water in birdbaths frequently. Install or repair screens. Keep mosquitoes outside by having tightly fitting screens on all of your windows and doors.