Prevention is the number one way to stay healthy against mosquito-borne disease!
9/16/2019 - The current risk level in Amherst is moderate for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). This level of risk means that EEE has occurred in our area within the last year and/or there is EEE in mosquitoes in our area now. The risk level for West Nile Virus (WNV) remains at low.
“Even as the weather begins to cool, it remains critically important that people take steps to protect themselves and their families from mosquito bites,” said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH.
The Amherst Public Health Department continues to monitor the risk level of mosquito-borne illnesses in Amherst and is in close communication with the public school system and institutions of higher education. At this time, there have not been any restrictions placed on outdoor activities.
Should the EEE or WNV risk level in Amherst escalate or additional precautions be put in place, the Town of Amherst will post this information on the Town website www.amherstma.gov on their social media accounts and will share with local media outlets.
You can learn more about mosquito-borne illness here: www.mass.gov/dph/mosquito
The Amherst risk level for EEE has been raised to moderate (on a scale of low, moderate, high and critical) due to activity in surrounding areas, WNV risk remains at a low risk level. Everyone should continue to take steps to prevent disease by using mosquito repellent, avoiding the outdoors during peak mosquito times, and emptying standing water around their homes.
WNV is most commonly transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. The mosquitoes that carry this virus are common throughout the state, and are found in urban as well as more rural areas. While WNV can infect people of all ages, people over the age of 50 are at higher risk for severe infection.
EEE is a rare but serious and potentially fatal disease that can affect people of all ages. EEE occurs sporadically in Massachusetts with the most recent outbreak years occurring from 2004-2006 and 2010-2012. The types of mosquitoes most likely to transmit EEE are likely to be out searching for food (an animal to bite) at dusk, the time period between when the sun sets and it gets completely dark. The exact thing of this increased activity is influenced by many factors including temperature, cloud cover, wind and precipitation and cannot be predicted precisely for any given day.
People have an important role to play in protecting themselves and their loved ones from illnesses caused by mosquitoes:
Apply Insect Repellent when Outdoors. Use a repellent with an EPA-registered ingredient (DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-methane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] or IR3535) 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% or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age.
Be Aware of Peak Mosquito Hours. The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning in areas of high risk.
Clothing Can Help Reduce Mosquito Bites. Wearing long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.
Drain Standing Water. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by draining or discarding items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty unused flowerpots and wading pools and change the water in birdbaths frequently.
Install or Repair Screens. Keep mosquitoes outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all of your windows and doors.
Animal owners should reduce potential mosquito breeding sites on their property by eliminating standing water from containers such as buckets, tires, and wading pools – especially after heavy rains. Water troughs should be flushed out at least once a week during the summer months to reduce mosquitoes near paddock areas. Horse owners should keep horses in indoor stalls at night to reduce their risk of exposure to mosquitoes. Owners should also speak with their veterinarian about mosquito repellents approved for use in animals and vaccinations to prevent WNV and EEE.
Information about WNV and EEE and current risk levels in our community can be found on the MDPH website at http://www.mass.gov/dph/mosquito
Massachusetts Department of Public Health Both black-legged (deer) ticks and dog ticks are found throughout Massachusetts and may spread different disease-causing germs when they bite you. The most common tick-borne diseases in Massachusetts are Lyme Disease, Babesiosis, and Anaplasmosis. Other diseases that are more rare, but still occur, are Tularemia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Borrelia miyamotoi, and Powassan virus. Tick-borne illnesses can be very severe and taking steps to avoid tick bites is important. Please click here for more information on tick-borne diseases and how to prevent them.
University of Massachusetts TickReport
The University of Massachusetts Laboratory of Medical Zoology provides tick testing service to public individuals and agencies seeking more information about the risk of dangerous pathogens. Find out more or send your tick to college! https://www.tickreport.com/
The Centers for Disease Control website has data on tick-borne disease found in Amherst including Lyme Disease, Anaplasmosis and Babesiosis, as well as emerging tick-borne disease.