HAVERHILL — Mosquitoes in northeastern Haverhill have tested positive for the West Nile virus, causing the city to spray that area early next week, Mayor James Fiorentini said.

Fiorentini said he has ordered mosquito control spraying Monday from 6:45 to 10 p.m.

A written release from the mayor's office said two trucks from the Northeast Massachusetts Mosquito Control District will spray an insecticide starting in the vicinity of Interstate 495's Exit 51, heading to North Avenue, then to Concord Street, Kenoza Avenue and Amesbury Road to the Merrimac town line. The spraying will include other public roads in the area, the release said.

West Nile is a mosquito-carried virus that can cause illnesses ranging from a mild fever to encephalitis or meningitis.

The state Department of Public Health is not recommending that any nighttime events be cancelled this weekend due to the West Nile virus discovery, the mayor's release said.

Haverhill, like other communities in the region, had already canceled nighttime outdoor events such as high school sports until the first heavy frost. That order was due to the earlier discovery of the Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus being carried by mosquitoes in the Merrimack Valley and Southern New Hampshire.

The EEE virus killed a horse in Methuen and caused several communities to spray to kill mosquitoes. Local and state health officials have warned the public against being outdoors at night without wearing protective clothing, including pants and long-sleeve shirts, and using insect repellent.

EEE can cause illnesses ranging from flu-like symptoms to death.

Fiorentini is urging the public to take precautions against mosquito bites, including and avoiding outdoor activities from dusk to dawn, and checking their properties for unattended containers of standing water, which may attract mosquitoes.

The mayor's office said the insecticide being sprayed Monday night is rated as having extremely low toxicity to humans and animals, and is approved for use over food crops intended for human consumption. It is recommended that residents in the spraying areas keep their windows closed and their pets inside during spraying hours.

The city's Health Department and the Northeast Mosquito Control Program will conduct additional monitoring and testing of mosquitoes over the next few days, the mayor's office said.

Watch eagletribune.com and print editions of The Eagle-Tribune for developments in this story.

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