NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

August 6, 2013

West Nile virus found in Congress St. area, not as previously reported

Amesbury City Notebook
Mac Cerullo

---- — Over the weekend, the mayor’s office received word from the state Department of Public Health that the mosquito sample that tested positive for West Nile virus in Amesbury was actually found off Congress Street near the Salisbury border, contrary to previous reports that the virus had been detected in the northwest part of town.

In response to the virus’ emergence, the city has conducted targeted spraying in the affected area, which reportedly includes Market Street down to Clinton Street, Congress Street down to Madison Street, then up Monroe Street into Salisbury, with Fern Avenue also included.

Residents who don’t live within the affected area but want their home sprayed anyway can contact the Northeast Massachusetts Mosquito Control and Wetlands Management District at 978-463-6630 to schedule an appointment free of charge.

West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause illnesses ranging from a mild fever to more serious diseases like meningitis. The disease is typically spread to people through the bite of an infected mosquito, and the virus has become increasingly common in Massachusetts in recent years.

This year alone, the virus has already been detected in Merrimac, Newbury and Rowley, along with more than 30 other communities around the state. Given the prevalence of West Nile virus across the state, the DPH has said that there is evidence the virus is now established in the United States and residents should expect to see some West Nile virus activity each year.

Last week, DPH spokesperson Anne Roach said residents can protect themselves from the virus by applying bug spray, wearing long-sleeved clothing and being aware of peak mosquito hours (typically dusk until dawn). Residents should also drain any standing water where the insects might lay their eggs and install or repair screens to keep them out of the house entirely.

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Next Thursday the Whittier Home Association will be hosting its second Old Fashioned Tea Party of the summer in John Greenleaf Whittier’s Victorian Garden, and next week’s tea will feature a performance by classical guitarist John Tavano as well.

The tea party will include a menu of hot and cold teas, lemonade and an assortment of tea sandwiches and desserts, according to Rosemary Werner, the Whittier Home’s Tea Committee chairperson. Free tours will also be offered following the tea, she said.

Tea will be served from 2 to 4 p.m. and the cost is $20 per person. Reservations should be made no later than Monday, Aug. 12, by calling the home at 978-388-1337 or by purchasing tickets online at whitterhome.org.

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This Sunday the Whittier Home Association will also be holding its Tapestry of Voices event, in which Whittier enthusiasts are invited for an afternoon of poetry with the Boston-based Tapestry of Voices group. Whittier Home Association president Cynthia Costello encourages all who love Whittier’s poetry to hear it read by the guest readers, and she added that the event is free and refreshments will be served.

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Tonight marks the 30th annual National Night Out, a nationwide celebration of community policing and the partnerships between public safety departments and municipal organizations that help keep communities safe.

Amesbury has been celebrating National Night Out for 18 years now, and this year’s ceremony will run from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Amesbury High School parking lot and will feature a display of antique cars, public safety vehicles and construction units. There will also be free pizza from Flatbread Co., hot dogs, cold soda, entertainment from WNBP The Legends 106.1 FM and an appearance by Ronald McDonald.

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Just a reminder: Tomorrow the police will be conducting a car seat checkpoint where residents can have their car seats looked at and installed correctly to ensure they’re working properly.

Officer Dave Clark will be available at the police station to check car seats from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and no appointment is necessary.

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The following meetings are scheduled this week and are open to the public:

Tonight

Cultural Council, 7 p.m., Cedar Street Artist Studios, 14 Cedar St.

Monday

School Committee Goals Session, 5:30 p.m., Amesbury High School.

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Mac Cerullo covers Amesbury for The Daily News. He can be reached at 978-462-6666, ext. 3238 or by email at mcerullo@newburyportnews.com. Follow Mac on Twitter at @MacCerullo.