EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 14, 2013

More mosquitoes test positive for West Nile in Methuen

By Yadira Betances

---- — METHUEN — For the second week in a row, Massachusetts Department of Public Health officials have found mosquitoes samples with the West Nile virus.

William J. Buckley, director of Methuen’s Department of Economic and Community Development, said the infected mosquito was found late yesterday afternoon west of Interstate 93. While the department of public health does not give an exact location, Buckley said the area is within the city border west of I-93, encompassing routes 110 and 113 toward Dracut.

“It’s a threat that we should take seriously,” said Buckley, who supervises the city’s Health Department.

On Monday at 7 p.m., Northeast Massachusetts Mosquito Control will spray in all areas of the city west of I-93 and a small area in the northeast corner of town where the first case was found near the Haverhill line.

Humans contract the West Nile virus when bitten by infected mosquitoes, with children and people over 50 at a higher risk of severe infection.

“We’re taking all the precautions we can by spraying and educating residents on how to prevent it,” Mayor Steve Zanni said.

The mayor said schools and recreational fields were sprayed before schools opened. All of the city’s catch basins were treated with a 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, where the infected mosquito was found.

“We did some spraying and we were not able to eradicate it and I don’t know if we ever can,” Buckley said. “West Nile is here and we need due diligence in our preventive measure.”

Despite the two confirmed cases, Buckley said the state Department of Public Health lists Methuen as low risk level.

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.

Last night, Haverhill canceled its football game against Central Catholic because of the West Nile threat. The game will be played today at 3 p.m.

Protecting yourself from mosquitoes Avoid Mosquito Bites by limiting outdoor activities from dusk to dawn, the peak biting times. If not, use bug spray and wear long-sleeves, long pants and socks outdoors to keep mosquitoes from your skin. Cover up children's arms and legs when playing outdoors and place mosquito netting over a baby's carriage or playpen. Apply bug spray when outdoors, a mosquito repellent that contains DEET or Picaridin or lemon eucalyptus oil and always follow the directions on the package. Only use products with permethrin on clothing. Repellents should not be used on children younger than 2 months old and lemon eucalyptus oil should not be applied on children under 3. Mosquito-Proof Your Home Drain standing water so mosquitoes don't lay their eggs in it. Check rain gutters and drains, unused flowerpots and wading pools, as they will breed in any standing water lasting more than four days. Change water in birdbaths frequently. Install or repair screens so mosquitoes don't get inside your house.