HADLEY, Mass. (WWLP) – Although no humans or animals have tested positive, public health officials are warning residents to limit their exposure outside.
The state laboratory confirmed a case of the West Nile virus in mosquitoes in Hadley this week. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced that aerial spraying for mosquitoes will take place in the southeastern part of the state.
Since West Nile only tested positive in Hadley, we won’t have to worry about that anytime soon but it’s something residents should be aware of. It’s a mosquito-carried virus that can cause serious illness, although most people who contract the West Nile Virus show no symptoms.
Health officials are reminding residents that the virus can be transmitted to humans as well as animals. They recommend using bug spray containing ingredients like DEET.
You can also protect yourself at home by getting rid of any standing water, and repairing any holes in window screens. Also limit your time outdoors, especially during dusk.
“When I play golf, I put bug spray on just to be safe,” Larry Briggs told 22News.” If you get bit, you get bit. You just try to avoid it as much as you can.”
In early July, health officials confirmed the first case of the West Nile virus in Massachusetts for 2019. Those mosquitoes were samples collected in Boston on July 3. In 2018, the state saw a record 49 confirmed human cases.
Aerial spraying will be conducted in areas of Bristol and Plymouth counties beginning Wednesday night. The state Department of Public Health confirmed two human cases of EEE in Grafton and southern Plymouth County in early August.
According to the Department of Public Health, spraying only occurs when the risk for Eastern Equine Encephalitis expands over a wide geographical area.
“If someone in the government decided to do that I guess it’s better than the consequences of getting bitten by mosquitoes or getting West Nile,” said Henry Brown of Northampton.
According to the state, the pesticide used in spraying only has a half-life of less than one day in the air and on plants. Whether mosquito spraying occurs is decided by the area’s local mosquito control project. One resident told 22News he’s relieved that Hadley doesn’t fit the criteria.
“I’m always a little suspicious when it comes to chemicals, maybe they can drop something natural who knows,” said Rick Ricard of Amherst. “I just think there are always other ways to address these things.”
You can call the Massachusetts Department of Public Health at (617) 983-6800 for more information.