Garrett Simonsen is a home gardener and wants to stretch every possible minute out of this year’s flowers, fruits and vegetables. But even he said earlier this week, “”What we’ll need is a good hard frost.”
Simonsen, coordinator of the Greater Derry Public Health Network, was referring to the two batches of mosquitoes found in Derry this past week that have tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). While the settling-in of fall will kill the mosquitoes, at least for this year, Simonsen has other suggestions for keeping EEE and other mosquito-borne illnesses at bay.
Simonsen said in a phone interview Monday that he received the information last Friday from the New Hampshire Department of Public Health. Of the two batches that tested positive, one species is a “bird-biter” and of no danger to humans, Simonsen said. But the other is “non-discriminatory,” and feeds off birds, animals and humans, he said.
“That second batch,” he said, “raises our level of concern.”
A case of EEE in a human in North Conway also brought the issue to the fore, according to Simonsen.
Acting Town Administrator Larry Budreau acted quickly, using budgeted funds to bring in Dragon Mosquito Control. The spraying was to take place Tuesday, Aug. 26, from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. at public fields and playgrounds including Barka School, Derry Village School, East Derry Memorial School, Grinnell School, Gilbert H. Hood Middle School, South Range School, West Running Brook Middle School, Alexander-Carr Park, Don Ball Park, MacGregor Park, Rider Fields, Veterans Field, Pinkerton Academy and the Pinkerton practice fields.
The spraying was done in coordination with Pinkerton and the Derry Cooperative School District, Budreau wrote in an e-mail.
The fields and other areas were closed to the public from 5 p.m. Tuesday to 5 a.m. Wednesday. Pinkerton’s freshmen were scheduled to come in to school on Wednesday, Aug. 27, and Derry School District’s sixth-graders were slated to have their orientation that day, with school beginning for all students at both Pinkerton and Derry’s School Administrative Unit (SAU) 10 on Thursday, Aug. 28.
Budreau wrote in a press release, “The town proactively budgets for a spraying program to address situations like this one. We have a strong partnership with the schools to share in the costs, as well as to promote prevention with residents.”
Proactive steps individuals can take remain the same, Simonsen said, including:
• Wearing long sleeves and long pants when outdoors in mosquito-prone areas.
• Limiting outdoor activity in the early morning and late evening.
• Using an insect repellent, preferably one containing DEET, and applying it according to instructions.
• As mosquitoes breed in standing water, homeowners should eliminate standing water from birdbaths, pet drinking bowls and clogged gutters.
• Making sure screens don’t have holes, Simonsen said.
According to the press release, EEE is “an illness that is caused by a virus and can spread to people through mosquito bites. Human infection with the virus can cause a range of illness from flu-like symptoms, including fever, headache and sore throat, to more serious symptoms such as seizures and coma.” Simonsen said young children, the elderly and those with chronic illnesses are the most vulnerable.
For more information, call the Derry Public Health Department at 845-5519; visit www.derry-nh.org/Pages/DerryNH_publichealth?WNVEEE; or watch public service announcements on Derry Cable Channel 17.
For more information about EEE and West Nile Virus visit the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) website at http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/arboviral/index.htm and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov. For questions, contact the DHHS Bureau of Infectious Disease Control at 271-4496.