EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

August 19, 2013

Editorial: Mosquitoes not welcome at local Old Home Days

With the outdoor fun of Old Home Days having come to several Southern New Hampshire communities, concerns about the mosquito-borne diseases West Nile virus and eastern equine encephalitis are on the rise.

So it is appropriate that community health officials took these concerns seriously and scheduled mosquito spraying prior to the events.

In Londonderry, health officials ordered mosquito spraying last Monday and Tuesday nights in advance of Old Home Day, a five-day event that began Wednesday.

“We’re doing it as a precautionary measure,” said Richard Canuel, Londonderry’s health officer and building inspector.

No West Nile or EEE has been detected in Londonderry. But West Nile has been found in mosquitoes trapped in two Southern New Hampshire communities so far this year.

In Massachusetts, officials in Andover ordered mosquito spraying in a corner of town after West Nile was detected in neighboring Tewksbury. North Andover has also ordered spraying around athletic fields and parks as a precautionary measure.

It is important and proper for health officials to be cautious and proactive. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most people infected with West Nile virus experience no symptoms. Some develop a fever, headaches and fatigue. But a small percentage — less than 1 percent — suffer inflammation of the brain that may be fatal.

EEE is a far more serious concern. Of those who develop brain inflammation from EEE infection, one-third will die, according to the CDC. Most of the survivors suffer significant brain damage.

Mosquitoes with West Nile have been found in Sandown and Pelham. In late July, two batches of trapped mosquitoes tested positive for the virus.

In Sandown, officials scheduled mosquito spraying recently prior to the Old Home Days celebrations earlier this month. The mosquito-borne illnesses usually peak around Labor Day. Sandown has budgeted $25,500 for mosquito detection and control.

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