West Nile virus detected in Wareham mosquitos

Sep 6, 2022

Mosquitoes collected from Wareham tested positive for West Nile virus on Sept. 2, the state’s public health department announced last week.

Residents have up until Sept. 9 to request free mosquito spraying at their home address from the Plymouth County Mosquito Control Project.

“We are planning area spraying around those positive test areas,” project superintendent Ross Rossetti said on Tuesday, adding that residents still have time to call the state agency and ask for their residences to be sprayed.

Since news of the positive West Nile virus cases broke last weekend, Rossetti said the project hasn’t seen a serious uptick of spraying requests yet. Overall, calls had been dropping as mosquito population levels have trended downward. But he expects to receive more requests later this week, he said, after the West Nile news.

So far, two people in Massachusetts, both from Suffolk County, have tested positive for West Nile virus this year. Both are in their 70s and tested positive at the beginning of August, according to the state.

West Nile virus isn’t quite as bad as Eastern Equine Encephalitis, usually known as "Triple E" or “EEE,” Rossetti said, but residents should still ensure they take proper precautions when going outside.

The current Triple E risk in Wareham is “low,” according to the state’s risk and reporting map. That means EEE “may occur in your area,” as opposed to moderate or high risks that mean the virus has already been detected nearby.

EEE was a particular concern for residents 10 years ago in 2012, when Wareham had a “high” risk for the virus, and officials recommended rescheduling outdoor evening events because of the mosquito risk. Wareham schools ended some outdoor activities by 6 p.m. to reduce the risk of potentially catching the disease.

Beyond spraying for mosquitoes, the Plymouth County Mosquito Project also offers services like standing water checks, where workers visit residents’ yards to see if there’s standing water and treat it for mosquitoes if necessary, Rossetti said.

“We do a lot of different things,” he said.

The deadline for residential spray requests is Sept. 9, and those requests will be fulfilled the following week, Rossetti said. The agency will remain active and spray prior to large school or public events throughout the rest of the month, he said.

The agency works with local health departments, especially during times of positive virus detection. To make spray requests, call (781)-585-5450 and press “1.”

The Wareham Health Department has asked residents to take precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites, the Director of Public Health Patrick MacDonald said in a press release.

“Information about West Nile virus and common sense precautions can be found on the MDPH website,” he said, “as well as reports of current and historical WNV virus activity in Massachusetts.”

To reduce the risk of mosquito bites, residents are encouraged to use insect repellent, wear long sleeves, be aware of peak mosquito hours from dusk to dawn and reduce potential mosquito habitats of standing water.

Most of the people who are infected with West Nile virus have no symptoms, according to the state’s health department. A small number of people who are infected experience symptoms like fever, headache, body aches, nausea and vomiting.

The virus has also recently been detected in mosquitoes from other South Coast towns, like Marion.

From 2011 to 2020, 148 people were reported to have West Nile virus in Massachusetts, and seven of those people died.

More information on the virus and how to protect yourself can be found at www.mass.gov/service-details/west-nile-virus-wnv.