AUBURN, Mass. – Although it was decided last week mosquito spraying would be suspended in Auburn, spraying will return Wednesday night after a mosquito with Eastern equine encephalitis recently was found in Millbury.
The spraying to kill mosquitoes will take place from 8:30-10 p.m. on the outdoor lit fields of Auburn High School, Lemansky Park and the Pappas Recreational Complex.
Auburn Board of Health Director Andrew Pelletier and other town officials decided Sept. 25 to suspend the sprayings because of the onset of cooler weather and the associated decrease in mosquito activity. However, with Millbury finding a mosquito with EEE Thursday, Auburn will return to spraying the three lit fields Wednesday night.
Auburn recently was designated 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.
Eastern equine encephalitis is a rare but serious viral disease spread by mosquitoes that can affect people and horses. It also 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.
Auburn has sprayed to kill mosquitoes in the Pakachoag Hill and Heard Street areas, as well as the three athletic fields.
Town officials listed common-sense precautions people can take to protect themselves from mosquito exposure:
- The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning. If you are outdoors at any time and notice mosquitoes around you, take steps to avoid being bitten by moving indoors, covering up and wearing repellent.
- Clothing can help reduce mosquito bites. Although it may be difficult to do when it’s hot, wearing long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.
- Apply insect repellent when you go outdoors. Use a repellent with DEET, permethrin, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus. DEET products should not be used on infants younger than 2 months and should be used in concentrations of only 30 percent or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children younger than 3 years.
- Many mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by either draining or getting rid of items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty unused flowerpots and wading pools, and change water in birdbaths frequently.
- Some mosquitoes like to come indoors. Keep them outside by having tight-fitting screens on all windows and doors.