An important message from your local board of health regarding mosquito-borne viruses.
Mosquito-borne viruses are viruses that are carried and spread by mosquitoes. In this part of the country, public health surveillance is done for two mosquito-borne viruses that can cause encephalitis (swelling of the brain) - West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). The period of highest risk of getting either disease can be from late July through the fall (the first hard frost).
Mosquitoes get WNV and EEE by biting infected birds. People and animals can get these diseases by being bitten by an infected mosquito. There is no evidence that a person can get these viruses from handling live or dead infected birds or animals. However, gloves should be worn when handling any dead animals and double plastic bags used to discard them in the trash.
Most people bitten by mosquitoes carrying WNV will experience no symptoms or very mild symptoms and will recover on their own. Persons over 50 years of age have the highest risk of severe WNV disease. People who are bitten by mosquitoes carrying EEE tend to experience more severe symptoms. Severe symptoms of both diseases include high fever, muscle weakness, headache, disorientation, neck stiffness, paralysis, coma, tremors, convulsions and sometimes death. There is currently no vaccine or medical cure for these illnesses. In severe cases intensive medical therapy such as intravenous (IV) fluids and nutrition, and ventilator support can be administered in hospitals.
The City of Haverhill has joined the Northeast Mosquito Control Program.
Anyone with operational questions can call them at 978-463-6630 Or visit the State Reclamation and Mosquito Control Board website -http://www.mass.gov/agr/mosquito/index.htm
Frequently asked questions relative to mosquito spraying - http://www.mass.gov/dph/cdc/factsheets/fsmosquito_spraying.pdf
Massachusetts Department of Public Health Facts Sheets:
Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) - http://www.mass.gov/dph/cdc/factsheets/fswnv_eee.rtf
West Nile Virus (WNV) - http://www.mass.gov/dph/cdc/factsheets/fswnv.rtf
What you can do to protect yourself:
Limit outdoor activities from dusk to dawn.
- If you must be outdoors when mosquitoes are active wear long sleeved shirts, long pants and socks.
- Consider using a mosquito repellent that contains DEET and carefully follow the directions on the label.
What you can do to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and neighborhood:
- Check and repair if necessary window and door screens.
- Remove sources of standing water, flower pots, tires, plastic containers (including trash cans), etc.
- Clean roof gutters; remove leaves and debris which may prevent drainage of rainwater.
- Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
- Do not allow water to stagnate in birdbaths.
TO REPORT SOURCES OF PREVENTABLE STANDING WATER:
Swimming pools must be kept clean and properly treated. Remove any standing water from pool covers. Residents who want to report unused, untreated swimming pools can call the Health Department @ 978-374-2325.
TO REPORT DEAD BIRDS:
Call the Mass. Department of Public Health @ 1-866-627-7968. They will ask some general questions to determine if they want the dead bird collected and tested. Once they determine that the bird should be collected for testing; they will give the caller a tracking number and advise the caller to call their local Board of Health. The Board of Health will obtain the tracking number and the location of the bird to arrange for pick up. Birds will be shipped out to the State Laboratory for testing.