Ground Spraying Conducted at Hockomock Swamp; Aerial Spraying Still Up in the Air
After finding EEE in Easton this past week, the State is conducting more tests to determine if aerial spraying is needed.
Easton Health Agent Mark Taylor said that extensive ground spraying was being conducted around the Hockomock Swamp Thursday morning by the Bristol County Mosquito Control in hopes to quell Eastern Equine Encephalitis infected mosquitoes.
"The parts that they didn't get to this morning, they're going back to tomorrow" Taylor said Thursday.
The Massachusetts Department of Health detected EEE in four mosquitoes in Easton last weekend. Two of the mosquitoes were "bird-biting" and two others were "mammal-biting."
Because the overall mosquito population is low, there is an even higher infection rate, which is particularly concerning, Taylor said.
While ground spraying persists around the swamp, aerial spraying is still up in the air. Taylor said the state's Department of Public Health will continue to test and if more positive cases are found, conversations around aerial spraying will become more intense.
The decision to aerial spray is in the hands of the state.
This summer's positive findings come approximately a year after a Raynham man died from the disease, prompting an outcry from Raynham's officials for aerial spraying from the state, which did not occur in 2011.
More preventive measures could be more likely this year after Raynham, Easton, Bridgewater, Duxbury, Lakeville, Mansfield, Marion, Middleboro, Norton, Rehoboth, Rochester and Taunton drafted a letter to DPH Commissioner John Auerbach last winter requesting a change to the state's response plan relating to EEE prevention.
The letter prompted a study conducted by a panel of experts from around the country.
"Consideration of the need for aerial adulticiding intervention, perhaps in focal areas, should occur before risk levels become critical but should not be considered in the absence of indicators of human risk," the study's summary read.
While more tests are conducted, Recreation Department Director Anne Daley said town-run programs will end one hour before dusk, as recommended by the Board of Health. Thursday's childrens races, which begin at 6:30 p.m. at Frothingham Park will end after the first two races. The third race is canceled.
Taylor said residents can request ground spraying on their property from the Bristol County Mosquito Control Project free of charge. He said residents are encouraged to pair with neighbors so larger masses of land can be sprayed at once. Information on ground spraying can be found at the Board of Health's website here.