BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Aerial spraying for mosquitos will start across parts of Massachusetts this week, after the state's first human case of West Nile virus was confirmed this season.
Spraying will happen over parts of Plymouth County, and a small part of Bristol County, according to the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, State Reclamation and Mosquito Control Board, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
The 25 communities in the spray zone are;
Bridgewater, Carver, Duxbury, East Bridgewater, Halifax, Hanover, Hanson, Kingston, Lakeville, Marion, Mattapoisett, Middleborough, Norwell, Pembroke, Plymouth, Plympton, Rochester, Rockland, Wareham, West Bridgewater, and Whitman in Plymouth County, and Acushnet, Easton, Raynham, and Taunton in Bristol County.
So far this year, 12 communities in southeastern Massachusetts have been found by DPH to be at moderate to critical risk for the Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus.
Spraying is expected to begin on Monday, August 10, and continue over several evenings. However, the state said the ability to spray is "weather dependent and the schedule may change."
The DPH said the exact locations where spraying will occur are subject to change, and the final spray map for each day of spraying will be available each morning ahead of the spray operations.
"Residents are encouraged to visit the Massachusetts Aerial Mosquito Spray Map webpage for the latest updates on spraying in their communities," said the DPH. "Officials will continue to monitor the area over the next two weeks and may conduct a second round of spraying to achieve maximal effectiveness."
EEE is a rare but serious and potentially fatal disease that can affect people of all ages. On August 3, DPH announced this year’s first human case of EEE virus infection, a male under the age of 18 who was exposed to EEE in Plymouth County.
Last year, the Commonwealth experienced its most active EEE season since 1956, with 12 human cases and 6 deaths. The state's first case of West Nile virus this season was also detected on Friday.
“As several communities in Southeastern Massachusetts are at elevated risk for EEE and this season’s first human case has been confirmed, the Commonwealth is acting to protect the public by conducting aerial spray operations to reduce the population of mosquitoes that transmit the EEE virus,” said SRMCB Chair and MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux. “While spraying for mosquitoes can reduce but does not eliminate the risk of EEE transmission, we ask the public to be vigilant and take care to follow personal protection practices.”
The pesticide used is called Anvil 10+10, an EPA-registered product extensively tested and used in both ground-level and aerial spraying in the U.S. to control mosquitoes. Anvil 10+10 contains two ingredients: Sumithrin and Piperonyl butoxid. Sumithrin is rapidly inactivated and decomposes with exposure to light and air, with a half-life of less than one day in the air and on plants. In soil, it degrades rapidly and has proven to be extremely effective in killing mosquitoes worldwide for over 20 years. Piperonyl butoxide serves to increase the ability of Sumithrin to kill mosquitoes.
“EEE is rare, but it is a serious medical illness, and we remind residents of the need to protect themselves from mosquito bites as EEE activity increases,” said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH. “The best prevention continues to be using mosquito repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants, weather permitting, and avoiding outdoor activity between the hours of dusk and dawn in the highest risk areas.”
There are no health risks expected during or after spraying. No special precautions are recommended; however, residents can reduce exposure by staying indoors during spraying. Aerial spraying is not expected to have any impacts on surface water or drinking water.
Aerial spraying will be conducted in the nighttime hours when fish are less likely to be at the surface feeding and honeybees are most likely to be in their hives. However, owners should cover small ornamental fishponds during the night of spraying. While it is not necessary to bring animals indoors during spraying, keeping pets inside will minimize the risk of exposure.
Although the aerial spray is considered necessary to reduce human risk, it will not eliminate it. Residents must continue to protect themselves from mosquito bites by staying indoors during peak mosquito hours, applying insect repellent when outdoors, draining standing water where mosquitoes breed, repairing screens in doors and windows, and protecting pets.
For an FAQ regarding mosquito control and spraying, you can visit the DPH website here. For information on Mosquito Control activities, you can visit the State Reclamation and Mosquito Control Board (SRMCB) webpage.
"All residents are reminded to use mosquito repellent any time they are outside, and those in high and critical risk communities are advised to schedule their outdoor activity to avoid the dusk to dawn hours to reduce exposure to the mosquitoes most likely to spread EEE," said the DPH.
(Photo: Getty Images)