Last Friday, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, also known as EEE, was detected in Hanson after the Department of Public Health set up a mosquito surveillance trap. The mosquito-borne illness has been an ongoing problem in Southeastern Massachusetts as a result of swamp lands. So far this year, no Hanson resident has been diagnosed with the potentially deadly illness.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health gave a prevention presentation to town residents Thursday night to address public concerns. During the presentation, residents expressed concerns about child safety during late-afternoon sports activities when it is the peak mosquito time. Dan Daley, a representative of the department, spoke to those in attendance. “We’re talking about reducing risk. No matter what you do, putting on the repellent, putting on the long sleeves, the long pant legs, being aware of peak mosquito hours; doing all that we’re doing to reduce risk. With us coming through spraying, we’re reducing risk. Nothing is going to eliminate it, except that first hard frost.”
Catherine Brown, the State Public Health Veterinarian, explained how the department first uses ground spraying to control the problem once EEE is found, “Aerial spraying is the last step and we only use that when we feel that ground-base spraying is not effectively reducing our risk and then we go to aerial spraying. We did not reach that point this year.”
Brown went on to state that aerial spraying is effective but costly and time consuiming. Whitman-Hanson High School was sprayed Wednesday. All other schools in Whitman and Hanson are scheduled to be sprayed soon depending on weather conditions. Hanson is currently at a moderate risk for EEE. Brown explained that the best way to prevent mosquito-borne illness is to use repellents, layered clothing, and paying attention to town announcements.