METHUEN — Mayor James Jajuga and Community Development Director William Buckley report that the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has elevated the city’s risk for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) to “critical” on Monday afternoon in light of positive mosquito testing for the virus and positive testing in a horse in Methuen.
A positive EEE test in an animal automatically raises the threat level for EEE to “critical” in a community.
As a result of this designation, the City of Methuen’s emergency management team is meeting at 3:30 p.m. today to discuss measures the city will undertake. Further information will be released after that meeting.
The City is following DPH guidelines and advising all residents to limit outdoor exposure after sundown. Residents should strongly consider cancelling or rescheduling any planned outdoor activities until further notice.
“We are very concerned about the critical EEE designation. It is not common for a community in Essex County to face this level of concern for the virus, so we feel it is extremely important to gather our leadership team this afternoon and make sure we have a strategy and messaging plan in place that will offer responsible guidelines to all Methuen residents and business owners,” Mayor Jajuga said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the EEE virus is a rare cause of brain infections or encephalitis. EEE causes very few human cases each year but can be fatal or leave victims with serious, lifelong complications.
The city and state offer the following important guidelines about EEE and mosquito-borne illness:
Avoid Mosquito Bites
- Limit outdoor activities during peak mosquito hours. Consider cancelling or rescheduling planned outdoor evening events and activities. The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. 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 if you do 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.