By Brian Messenger
---- — METHUEN — In a preventative measure, mosquito control workers will spray pesticides tomorrow night on school properties and recreational fields across the city.
There have been no positive tests in Methuen for mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus and eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), though several positive tests have been reported in Exeter, Pelham and Sandown, N.H.
“I thought it would be best to be proactive,” Mayor Stephen Zanni said yesterday. “The surrounding communities have had positive cases.”
The pesticide spraying is intended to decrease adult mosquito populations near schools and fields. The spraying is scheduled for tomorrow night from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. If weather prevents the spraying, it will be bumped to Friday at 8 p.m.
Spraying will be conducted by workers with Northeast Massachusetts Mosquito Control. NEMMC workers sprayed pesticides in both Andover and North Andover last week.
Methuen residents are not asked to take special precautions before or after the spraying. Recreational fields, as well as outdoor furniture or equipment, can be used at sunrise the following morning, according to a city press release.
Zanni said the decision to spray comes as the city prepares for the first day of school Sept. 4. A decision to spray along city streets could be made as soon as next week, he said. “We’re going to keep a close eye,” said Zanni.
With the City Council drastically reducing funding for a health director earlier this summer, cutting the position to $1, Zanni said Community Development Director William Buckley has served as the city’s point person for mosquito spraying.
Board of Health Chairman Ray Wrobel said Buckley has kept in close contact with board members in recent weeks.
“This is something we do every year,” said Wrobel. “It’s precautionary.”
People and animals can contract both EEE and West Nile virus after being bitten by an infected mosquito. EEE is the more serious disease and more often fatal. Symptoms of EEE include high fever, serious headache, a stiff neck and sore throat.
Symptoms of West Nile virus include fever and headache. Symptoms of both diseases usually show up within four to 10 days of a bite by an infected mosquito.