After a Bay State woman infected with Eastern Equine Encephalitis died over the weekend, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced the disease killed a horse in Methuen, New Hampshire’s border towns are on alert.
Jeff Emanuelson, assistant chief of the Salem Fire Department, said a contractor working for the town has been treating standing water with a chemical meant to kill mosquito larva since June. The contractor is also monitoring mosquito traps, and regularly testing batches of mosquitoes for EEE and West Nile Virus.
“As of today, there have been no positive reports for EEE or West Nile,” Emanuelson said, but the town will keep treating standing water with the larva-killing compound until at least September, he said.
After mosquitoes in Methuen and Pelham tested positive for EEE, the state Department of Health and human Services put Salem on a “moderate” alert level.
Emanuelson said he recommends following the advice of state epidemiologist Benjamin Chan: stay inside around dawn and dusk, and wear long sleeves, long pants and insect repellent if you do go outside.
EEE was also found in mosquitoes in Manchester earlier this month.
Mosquitoes in Manchester have also tested positive for West Nile Virus, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday. West Nile Virus is a more common, and usually a much less serious virus, according to the department. EEE is far rarer, but can be deadly.
Mosquitoes in Pelham were the first in New Hampshire to test positive for EEE earlier this month. Brian McCarthy, Pelham’s town administrator, said a mosquito test batch sampled after EEE was found did not turn up any infected mosquitoes. No people or animals in Pelham are known to have contracted the disease, and the alert level there is also “moderate.”
McCarthy said Pelham usually sprays its fields for mosquitoes in September, but sprayed after the infected mosquitoes were found in the town.
Some Massachusetts towns and school districts, including Methuen, have cancelled evening events and school sports practices, but McCarthy said Pelham has not taken such measures. That could change, he said, if another test batch of mosquitoes is found to carry the disease.