(WGGB) – Two mosquito-carried viruses have been found in samples collected in Hampshire County.
Northampton Director of Public Health Merridith O’Leary says that the state’s Department of Public Health notified her office that the West Nile Virus was detected in mosquitoes collected in Northampton.
In addition, O’Leary adds that the DPH indicated that Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) was found in mosquitoes collected in Amherst.
The Mass. Department of Public Health says that both samples were collected on Tuesday, July 23.
As a result of the EEE finding, the risk level for Amherst has been raised to ‘Moderate’ while nearby Belchertown remains at ‘Moderate’ after a horse was infected with EEE last year.
Granby, Hadley, Leverett, Pelham, South Hadley, and Sunderland are considered to be at ‘Low’ risk for EEE.
“It really is a chance for us to alert our citizens that it has been discovered,” said David Ziomek, Amherst Assistant Town Manager.
Ziomek says people can still enjoy their outdoor activities.
“I think we are monitoring and we’ll continue to sample through August and early September and see if those numbers of detected mosquitoes that are carrying EEE increase,” said Ziomek.
The state’s public health veterinarian, Dr. Catherine Brown, says, “Today is our first reminder that EEE is an annual occurrence in Massachusetts. We had EEE activity last year in several places outside of our historic southeastern Massachusetts hot spot and this finding indicates that last year’s experience might not have been an isolated occurrence. Risks from mosquitoes can occur throughout Massachusetts and this is a reminder for everyone across the Commonwealth to protect themselves.”
Parents in the Pioneer Valley are getting use to keep an eye on the bugs.
“Sometimes we go out and never have to use bug spray, now it’s continuous and I hate putting that on our children,” said Sherry Krause.
Her son Kae is a camper at Oasis Northampton where bug spray is always close by.
“You have to remind them constantly cause otherwise they forget,” said Jackie Nichols, Camp Oasis.
“A lot of times, I’ll put ice on it, just for comfort just let the parents know about it and just watch for signs and symptoms of headaches, fever, just keep an eye on them, “said Simone Westort, Camp Oasis.
So far this year, there have been no human cases of West Nile or EEE.
The state offers these tips to try and avoid an mosquito-borne illness:
Avoid Mosquito Bites
- Apply Insect Repellent when Outdoors. Use a repellent with DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-methane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] or IR3535 according to the instructions on the product label. DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age and should be used in concentrations of 30% or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age.
- 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.
- Clothing Can Help Reduce Mosquito Bites. Wearing long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.
Mosquito-Proof Your Home
- Drain Standing Water. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by either draining or
- discarding items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty any unused flowerpots and wading pools, and change water in birdbaths frequently.
- Install or Repair Screens. Keep mosquitoes outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all of your windows and doors.
Protect Your Animals
- Animal owners should reduce potential mosquito breeding sites on their property by eliminating standing water from containers such as buckets, tires, and wading pools – especially after heavy rains. Water troughs provide excellent mosquito breeding habitats and should be flushed out at least once a week during the summer months to reduce mosquitoes near paddock areas. Horse owners should keep horses in indoor stalls at night to reduce their risk of exposure to mosquitoes. Owners should also speak with their veterinarian about mosquito repellents approved for use in animals and vaccinations to prevent WNV and EEE. If an animal is diagnosed with WNV or EEE, owners are required to report to DAR, Division of Animal Health by calling 617-626-1795 and to the Department of Public Health (DPH) by calling 617-983-6800.
More information, including all WNV and EEE positive results from 2013, can be found on the Arbovirus Surveillance Information web page or by calling the DPH Epidemiology Program at 617-983-6800.