Citizens want sting on mosquito-borne virus

January 27, 2012 by  

The town of Raynham did not spray for mosquitos last summer, which concerned Alan Perry, health agent for the municipality. Mosquitos carry eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), which caused several deaths in the eastern U.S. in 2011. Perry requested and received support from Raynham selectmen to join a coalition of Massachusetts communities to lobby for revisions to the State’s Public Health Arbovirus Surveillance and Response Plan for the upcoming mosquito season.

The death of a Raynham man in September 2011 resulted in a demand from citizens to prevent the virus, transmitted via mosquitos, from spreading. Perry said a letter has been send on behalf of 13 communities urging public health authorities to seriously consider annual spraying in “critical breeding habitats” to eliminate adult mosquitos, which carry the EEE virus.

Flyer printing was undertaken in Raynham and area warning citizens of the implications of not protecting themselves against mosquito bites during their breeding season.

“By not fully vetting aerial spraying to combat disease (EEE in particular) the Massachusetts DPH has created a quality of life issue for the citizens of this region,” the letter said.

Southeastern Massachusetts is considered high risk for the spread of EEE, with pockets of mosquito breeding areas that could be the target for aerial spraying. Perry and his committee want to know why the state decided against spraying last year, and why communities were left out of the loop when the decision to cease spraying was made.

“When the state breaks its own protocols, we want to know,” he said.

“We wanted to focus on the critical issues we found with the state’s arbovirus surveillance and response plan,” Perry said. “This is an issue of quality of life in this area. … This is a regional issue. This is not just Raynham’s issue.”