AUBURN, Mass. – With temperatures starting to drop, the Auburn Board of Health does not plan on holding mosquito sprayings for the rest of the year.
After a mosquito with Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) was found two weeks ago in Millbury, the town of Auburn planned to hold mosquito sprayings on the outdoor lit fields of Auburn High School, Lemansky Park and the Pappas Recreational Complex. However, Auburn Board of Health Director Andrew Pelletier and other town officials have now decided to suspend spraying for the year because “the spraying loses its effectiveness the colder it gets.”
“Looking forward for the next 10 to 15 days, we’re only going to get one day over 65 degrees,” Pelletier said. “So we have no plans to spray right now, but that could change if we find any cases of EEE in town or if we find any human cases.”
Auburn was designated this summer a high-risk community for exposure to mosquito-borne diseases, specifically West Nile virus. This elevated risk status resulted from a human case of West Nile virus in Worcester and three sample pools of West Nile virus mosquitoes trapped in Auburn.
In August, West Nile Virus was detected in mosquitoes collected from the Pakachoag Hill and Heard Street areas of Auburn. The health department said no human cases of West Nile have been identified in Auburn, and no mosquito or human cases of EEE have been found in Auburn.
EEE is a rare but serious viral disease spread by mosquitoes. It can affect people and horses, and can cause disease in captive birds, such as the ring-necked pheasant, emu, ostriches, quail and ducks.
People of all ages are at risk for infection, but people older than 50 and younger than 15 are at greatest risk for developing severe disease. Most people bitten by an infected mosquito will not develop any symptoms. Severe cases begin with the sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills and vomiting. Approximately one-third of patients who develop the disease die, and many of those who survive have mild to severe brain damage.
Pelletier said now is the time to initiate mosquito prevention for next summer.
“Walk your yards, identify any vessels that can possibly contain water, such as tires, five-gallon buckets, tarps, etc.,” Pelletier said. “Dump them out and store them where they won’t refill.”