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Disease-carrying mosquitoes descend on Massachusetts
08.08.2012Health officials in Massachusetts have warned that the state is swarmed with more mosquitoes carrying the rare but deadly eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) infection than it has been in 30 years, according to the Boston Globe. The news source states that no cases of EEE have been reported yet. As a precautionary measure, individuals who have been bitten by a mosquito and feel ill may want to consider seeking aid from emergency department physicians.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) oversaw aerial insecticide spraying of 21 southeastern Massachusetts towns and cities from July 20 to 22, which by their estimates eliminated 60 percent of the mosquito population. Nonetheless, the Globe reports that the agency plans to respray six municipalities.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that EEE is not acquired by humans very often, and only a scant number of cases pop up in the U.S. each year, mainly in the Atlantic and Gulf coast states. Most of the time, people with EEE display no symptoms. In more serious cases, the infection can result in sudden fever, chills and vomiting. Later, effects can include disorientation, seizures, coma, brain damage and even death in 33 percent of severe cases.
"It's important to note that aerial spraying can only reduce but not eliminate the threat of mosquito-borne illness in the areas that are sprayed. That's why it's so important for individuals in these communities to continue to take personal precautions against mosquito bites - both before and after spraying is conducted," said Mass DPH commissioner John Auerbach in a statement.
The department recommends applying bug repellent containing DEET, but making sure to use a product that has less than 30 percent of the ingredient on children, and not using it at all on babies less than two months old.
The Globe spoke to a handful of Massachusetts residents who were making sure to buy bug spray, but some Bay Staters had concerns apart from bug bites. One citizen of Easton expressed indignation at the prospect of more spraying, noting the harm insecticides could potentially do to the environment.
"It's dusk, you know there are bugs outside. Put bug spray on your kids or stay inside," a 47-year-old woman told the Globe.
Mass DPH states that it uses the insecticide Anvil for fly-over sprayings, which includes one of the same ingredients used in anti-flea medication commonly applied on dogs and cats.
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