It’s that time of year where we have to pay attention to the risks of mosquito-borne illnesses, such as West Nile virus and Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), again.
Tuesday night, representatives from the Northeast Massachusetts Mosquito Control and Wetlands Management District (NEMMC) gave the Board of Health an update on mosquito activity in the region and the services NEMMC provides for the health board and residents.
“We work under the state umbrella, and everything we do is integrated pest management,” said NEMMC Entomologist Kimberly Foss. “We don’t just go treat and spray: We do mosquito surveillance; we do biological controls … we also do physical controls, such as property maintenance, and we handle resident requests.”
In addition, Foss said the NEMMC does a lot of education and outreach and has resources available for the Board of Health and for residents. She said the organization is busy year-round, beginning with freshwater larviciding in the spring. “There are 52 different kinds of mosquitoes in Massachusetts, and each of the mosquitoes has different habitats and different times of the year when it spreads viruses,” said Foss.
Some of the major areas that get treated in Revere are salt marshes and catch basins. In urban areas, such as Revere, Foss said, the mosquitoes that breed in catch basins are a risk for carrying and spreading West Nile virus.
In addition to its regular regimen of spraying in the city and the other 31 communities it services, the NEMCC will respond to resident and Board of Health requests for spraying and testing.
“Tires that breed mosquitoes, puddles, ponds, anything that may breed mosquitoes or any problem that a resident may have or a Board of Health may have, they can contact us and we’ll go do a service request,” said Foss.
The quickest way to get information on spraying and mosquitoes or to make a request is through the NEMCC website at www.nemassmosquito.org.
One of the biggest things the NEMCC does is surveillance and testing of potential problem areas. Foss said that surveillance started about four weeks and typically lasts through October.
In Revere, adult mosquito surveillance began the week of May 14, and mosquito pools began being sent to the state’s Department of Public Health on June 14.
The NEMCC has completed 18 site inspections for spring and early summer larviciding and completed catch basin larviciding on June 26.
There were 142 residential and 66 Board of Health requests for adulticide spraying in June. One mosquito pool was sent to the lab and tested negative for West Nile virus and EEE.
“We had one resident request for inspection, but we would like to see a little more,” said Foss. “If people are having problems or concerns, they can easily call us or they can go to our website. They can have us check that puddle of water in front of their house, or if their backyard is wet. We check the salt marshes all the time. Anything they think is questionable, we’ll come look at it.”