WEST NEWBURY —The discovery of infected mosquitoes during routine testing in two surrounding towns has prompted the Board of Health to order spraying in the eastern section of town this week.
Following announcements that a mosquito tested positive for West Nile virus in Newburyport last week and Eastern equine encephalitis was found in another insect in Merrimac, the health board is moving ahead with plans for spraying, as a precautionary measure, although neither has been detected in West Newbury.
The spraying is scheduled for tonight and tomorrow night, weather permitting, on Way to the River Road, Chase Street, Indian Hill Street, South Street, and all areas to the east of these roads as far as the Newburyport city line.
In Newburyport, West Nile virus has been found in two collections of mosquitoes during recent weeks. The most recent finding last Friday in a trap located in the west side of the city by the Turkey Hill area, is prompting city officials and Northeast Mosquito Control and Wetlands Management District to conduct a round of target ground spraying in that area tonight.
Earlier this month, the state Department of Public Health notified the city that several infected mosquitoes were discovered in a collection trap on Plum Island near the salt marshes by Old Point Road.
Yesterday, the Northeast Massachusetts Mosquito Control and Wetlands Management District said they expect to conduct a spraying, by helicopter, of coastal salt marshes in Salisbury, Newburyport, Newbury, and Rowley between Aug. 22 and Aug. 30. The spraying will occur during the day and the helicopter will fly low to the ground. Northeast Mosquito Control said they will use the biological larvicide, Bti, which is non-toxic to people, as well as fish, birds, bees and to virtually all insect species.
In addition to Newburyport, West Nile virus has been found in numerous communities around the state and region in recent weeks, including Amesbury, Merrimac, Newbury and Rowley.
State officials have said that the "geographically widespread findings" in communities across the state indicate that West Nile virus is circulating throughout the commonwealth and is not confined to municipalities where infected mosquitoes have been found.” Evidence indicates that the virus is established in the United States now, and residents should expect to see some West Nile virus activity occur each year, according to state health officials.
The state's surveillance program began in June and testing occurs five days a week.
Residents are also reminded to continue to take “common sense precautions,” including the use of insect repellent, covering exposed skin while outside, and avoiding being outdoors at dusk and after nightfall when mosquitoes are most active.
West Nile virus can cause illness ranging from a mild fever to encephalitis or meningitis, according to the Mass DPH.