WEST NEWBURY — Superintendent Justin Bartholomew reports that Pentucket Regional School District is instating outdoor activity restrictions in response to positive testing for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in West Newbury.
All district outdoor sports practices and games on Pentucket Regional School District properties and public practice fields in West Newbury, Merrimac and Groveland, including Mill Pond/Pipestave Hill, will be held before dusk, postponed or rescheduled until further notice.
“Student health and safety is of the utmost importance to us all, and unfortunately in this case that means we need to keep our student athletes off of the fields and inside after dusk while the risk for EEE remains a concern,” Superintendent Bartholomew said. “We encourage students and their families to take care to protect themselves against mosquitoes in the meantime, and follow safety recommendations from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.”
The West Newbury Health Division was notified Friday by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) that two mosquito pools in the area of Ash Swamp on Ash Street tested positive for EEE. The mosquitoes tested were trapped on Tuesday, Sept. 3, and were of a species that is known to bite mammals.
The Northeast Massachusetts Mosquito Control and Wetlands Management District will deploy truck based adulticide mosquito spray early next week in West Newbury and Groveland, and more information about the date and time of that spraying will be released by the towns as it becomes available. To read a statement from West Newbury and Groveland officials about the positive tests and spraying, click here.
Pentucket officials urge students, their families and staff to adhere to the following safety tips from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health:
Avoid Mosquito Bites
- Be aware of peak mosquito hours: The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during the evening or early morning. If you are outdoors at any time and notice mosquitoes around you, take steps to avoid being bitten by moving indoors, covering up and/or wearing repellent.
- Clothing can help reduce mosquito bites: Although it may be difficult to do when it’s hot, wearing long sleeves, long pants and socks while outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.
- Apply insect repellent when you go outdoors. Use a repellent with DEET, permethrin, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus according to the instructions on the product label. DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age and should be used in concentrations of 30 percent or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age. Permethrin products are intended for use on items such as clothing, shoes, bed nets and camping gear and should not be applied directly to your skin.
Mosquito-Proof Your Home
- Drain standing water: Many mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by either draining or getting rid of items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty any unused flowerpots and wading pools and change water in birdbaths frequently.
- Install or repair window and door screens: Some mosquitoes like to come indoors. Keep them outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all of your windows and doors.
Information about EEE and reports of current and historical EEE virus activity in Massachusetts can be found on the MDPH website here.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the EEE virus is a rare cause of brain infections or encephalitis. Very few human cases are reported across the U.S. each year, but EEE can be fatal or leave victims with serious complications and neurological problems.