Board of Health Cancels Mosquito Spraying

Friday, August 10, 2018
By Kate Anslinger

The Board of Health (BoH) made a unanimous decision Tuesday night to cancel the mosquito spraying scheduled for Thursday evening, Aug. 9.

Prior to the decision, Bill Schmidt, chair of the Board, called an emergency meeting to discuss the spraying, after Vice Chair Astrid Weins and Susan Maguire requested it, due to their belief that the spraying would be unnecessary.

“There is a misconception that adulticide spraying is done to protect residents from mosquitos,” said Weins. “Adulticiding is reserved as a measure to protect residents from mosquito-borne illnesses, in the event that there is a high-risk advisory. That is not currently the case. We are at a moderate risk level now, due to a single case of West Nile Virus (WNV) found in a bird-biting species, with mammal-biters being negative. That was in Lynnfield, and they did not even spray there. There is no rationale for spraying in Winthrop at this time.”

She said given the fact that virus vector mosquito counts are very low and higher count mosquitos that people often complain about are day-time active salt marsh mosquitos that are not vectors for WNV or Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), the spraying would be ineffective. Plus, she said they would not be affected by the spraying, which is performed at night.

“Based on this information, the spraying would be ineffective, which is why the BoH does not approve the adulticide spraying at this time, but should conditions change, we will consider and approve spraying at a later time,” she said. According to strict recommendations, the focus should be on prevention and taking precaution against mosquito breeding. Over the last several years, the town has been sprayed and the most recent spraying was conducted last year as a response to the WNV detection in a local mosquito. In general, the BoH is responsible for approving adulticiding, and the best management practice plan with Northeast Mosquito Control outlines this spraying for virus infection only.

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