AUBURN, Mass. – Although some neighboring towns have banned night sports games because of the threat of West Nile virus and Eastern equine encephalitis, Auburn has decided not to go that route.
Grafton’s school department has mandated that all school-sponsored activities must end by 7 p.m., and Shrewsbury, Northborough and Southborough have set similar limits. But Auburn Town Manager Julie Jacobson said mosquito spraying will be done on the athletic fields Wednesday night, and future night games will proceed, for now.
“The town of Auburn is working with the schools and the Board of Health to be proactive and ensure the safety of our residents and student-athletes,” Jacobson said.
The mosquito spraying will take place Wednesday night at the Pappas Recreation Complex, Lemansky Park and Auburn High School. The girls soccer game at the high school Wednesday night will be rescheduled because of the spraying, Jacobson said.
However, she said, the football game Friday at 7 p.m. will go on as planned, in addition to future night sporting events.
“We’re monitoring the situation very carefully, and we’re ready to take additional action if we have to,” Jacobson said.
Auburn will work with the Central Massachusetts Mosquito Control to schedule weekly spraying of the fields until after the first hard frost.
In August, West Nile virus was detected in mosquitoes collected from the Pakachoag Hill and Heard Street areas of Auburn. The Health Department said it’s important to note that no human cases have been identified in Auburn.
Auburn has performed ultra-low volume spraying to kill mosquitoes in the Pakachoag Hill and Heard Street areas.
Town officials listed a few common-sense precautions people can take to protect themselves and their loved ones from mosquito exposure:
- Be aware of peak mosquito hours - 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/or 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. Permethrin products are intended for use on clothing, shoes, bed nets and camping gear and should not be applied to skin.
- Drain standing water – 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.
- Install or repair screens – Some mosquitoes like to come indoors. Keep them outside by having tight-fitting screens on all windows and doors.