By Mac Cerullo
---- — Northeast Mosquito Control will conduct a community-wide spraying of both Amesbury and Salisbury tonight to combat the increasing prevalence of mosquito-borne illnesses in the region.
The spraying will be held after sunset as long as the weather conditions are fair. Amesbury Mayor Thatcher Kezer said the spraying was ordered jointly by both communities in response to reports that numerous mosquitoes captured in the area had tested positive for West Nile virus and Eastern equine encephalitis.
“We’ve had West Nile and EEE reports that have popped up in different locations both in and around Amesbury, and all the other communities have been seeing the same thing,” Kezer said. “So we’re working with Northeast Mosquito Control, and they’re recommending an area-wide spraying to try to knock the mosquito population down to slow down the spread of these two diseases.”
So far, at least one mosquito carrying West Nile virus has been detected in every community in the Greater Newburyport area this summer, according to the state Department of Public Health. Merrimac has proven to be the biggest hotbed of arbovirus activity in the region, with three confirmed cases of West Nile and one case of EEE since the end of July, the DPH said.
City officials are particularly concerned about residents spending more time outside and possibly falling ill now that school and fall sports are beginning, making an area-wide spray an even more appealing option.
“We worked it out jointly with Salisbury that when they go out to spray, we’ll do it all at once so it’s more time-efficient for Northeast Mosquito control,” Kezer said.
Jack Morris, the regional health director for both Amesbury and Salisbury, will be coordinating the spray, and in the event of inclement weather, the spray will be postponed until after sunset tomorrow night. Residents who wish to opt out of the spraying can contact Northeast Mosquito Control at 978-463-6630 and leave their name and address.
In addition to the spraying, residents are also being urged to take simple precautions to help protect themselves from mosquito bites. Among these, residents should also avoid being outside between dusk and dawn, when mosquito activity is at its peak, and if outside, residents should wear long-sleeved clothing and apply insect repellent, especially ones with DEET, permethrin, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535.
Residents should also drain standing water from rain gutters, fountains, flowerpots and birdbaths, and install or repair screens to keep mosquitoes from getting inside in the first place.
For more information, residents should check the Amesbury or Salisbury town websites, or contact Jack Morris at 978-388-8129, ext. 752.