State officials say they have raised the risk assessment for human disease in the towns of Raynham, Easton, Bridgewater and West Bridgewater, after Eastern Equine Encephalitis was found in mosquito samples from Raynham and Easton.
Massachusetts Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Catherine Brown, from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, say they recommend wearing long sleeves and pants and avoiding outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are active.
Although no human cases of EEE have been found this season in Massachusetts there was one case of EEE in a Massachusetts resident in 2010, as well as a Rhode Island resident who was likely exposed to the virus in the Bay State.
The Department of Public Health says the change in risk level comes a week after EEE was also found in samples taken in Bridgewater and West Bridgewater. State officials say there has also been a sharp increase in the mosquito population.
The increase in the risk level is done to increase awareness.
Authorities plan to conduct mosquito spraying, weather permitting, in Brockton on Friday, Monday and Tuesday.
Although the risk of becoming ill is low, the Health Department recommends that people take precautions to avoid mosquito bites:
· Wear long sleeves and pants and avoid outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are active.
· Reduce mosquito breeding habitats by getting rid of standing water, and by draining areas where water can pool such as rain gutters, wading pools, and old tires.
· Use insect repellents that are safe and effective against mosquitoes. Products with a registration number from the Environmental Protection Agency on the label have been evaluated for safety and effectiveness. Repellents containing DEET in concentrations up to 30%, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535 can be used to prevent mosquito bites.
· Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
There is a vaccine for horses, and horse owners should discuss vaccination with their veterinarians.
Symptoms of West Nile virus are often mild, but can include high fever, muscle aches, headache and fatigue. Approximately 1 percent of people who are infected develop severe illness affecting the central nervous system, which can be fatal.
For more information on West Nile Virus and EEE, visit the Plymouth County Mosquito Control web site at: http://www.plymouthmosquito.org/