News Briefs

Officials Advise Residents of Elevated West Nile Virus Risk Level

Interim Town Manager Terence Delehanty and Public Health Director Meredith Hurley announce that the Town of Winthrop is now considered at high risk for West Nile Virus, and offer community members of important safety tips to prevent mosquito bites and avoid mosquito-borne diseases.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has increased risk levels from moderate to high in communities in Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk and Suffolk Counties due to increasing West Nile Virus activity. West Nile Virus has not been detected in the Town of Winthrop.

Mosquitoes are most prevalent from May to August, but remain active until the first time temperatures fall below freezing. According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, mosquito bites in the state typically result in skin irritation and itching. However, serious diseases including West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) are also spread by mosquitoes in rare instances. These viruses can cause illness ranging from a mild fever to more serious disease like encephalitis or meningitis.

EEE was first detected in the state in 1938. The most recent outbreak, which began in 2019, included 12 cases with six fatalities, and the outbreak continued into 2020 with five cases resulting in one fatality.

West Nile virus was first detected in the United States in 1999. Since the majority of those exposed to West Nile virus have no symptoms, it’s difficult to identify exactly how many people have been infected. Only those who develop severe illnesses with West Nile virus are often reported.

The Winthrop Health Department encourages residents to follow these tips provided by the DPH:

• Use insect repellent with DEET any time you are outdoors. Be sure to follow the application directions on the label.

• Be aware of peak mosquito hours, which are generally from dusk to dawn. Residents who are ages 50 and older, or those who are immunocompromised, should limit outdoor activities from dusk to dawn.

• Wear protective clothing when outdoors during peak mosquito hours such as long sleeves, long pants, high socks, hats with netting to cover the face, and any other clothing that will cover exposed skin.

• Use mosquito netting around baby carriages or child playpens when your baby is outdoors.

• Make sure screens are repaired and are tightly attached to doors and windows.

• Remove standing water from places such as puddles, ditches, bird baths and gutters, which are breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

The Winthrop Health Department also wishes to share the following tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

• Apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.

• Do not apply insect repellent on the skin beneath clothing.

• Consider buying permethrin-treated clothing and gear, or using permethrin to treat your clothing and gear. Do not use permethrin products directly on skin.

• Use an indoor insect fogger or indoor insect spray to kill mosquitoes and treat areas where they rest. Always follow label instructions.

• To prevent mosquito bites when traveling overseas, choose a hotel or lodging with air conditioning or screens on windows and doors, or sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are outside or in a room that does not have screens

Parents, guardians and caregivers of babies and children are advised:

• Dress children in long layers to cover their arms and legs.

• Use mosquito netting to cover strollers and baby carriers outdoors.

• When using insect repellent on a child, follow instructions on the label and never use products that contain oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol on children under 3 years old.

• NEVER apply insect repellent on a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, cuts, or irritated skin. To apply insect repellent to a child’s face, carefully spray it onto your hands and apply it to the skin.

MVES Hold Free Virtual Workshop Series

Mystic Valley Elder Services will present a FREE Virtual diabetes self-management workshop series My Life; My Health, beginning Thursday, October 12 to November 16, 2021, from 9:30 am to 12:00 pm. (Practice Session to be held on Tuesday, October 5 at 9:30 am.) Learn how to connect virtually thru a Zoom platform and take the class from the comfort of your home. You don’t want diabetes to limit the activities and life you enjoy.

Throughout the series, you’ll learn skills for improved management of your diabetes — including how to effectively handle stress and difficult emotions, eat for your health and promote physical activity, increase your energy level, set and meet personal goals, and make informed choices about your treatment.. 

Class size is limited, so reserve your spot today. To register or if you have any questions about the program, contact Donna Covelle at [email protected] or call 781-388-4867.

Northeast Metro Tech Dismissed Due to Propane Leak

Superintendent David DiBarri and Fire Chief Michael Sullivan report that Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational High School was evacuated shortly before the start of the school day on Thursday due to a propane leak.

No injuries or illnesses have been reported. No fire or damage to the building has occurred. Classes have been canceled for the day.

The Wakefield Fire Department received a call at 7:09 a.m. that an odor of propane had been detected in the building; the school operates with propane gas. First responders determined upon arrival that the odor was emanating from the area where metal fabrication classes are taught.

First responders removed staff from the building, and held arriving students outside. Propane connections have been shut off, and the building has been vented.

Students were moved to nearby Wakefield High School, where school officials are arranging transportation.

The source of the leak is still under investigation by the Wakefield Fire Department.

This release will be updated as more information becomes available.

Baker Activates National Guard

Governor Charlie Baker activated the Massachusetts National Guard in response to requests from local communities for assistance with school transportation as the 2021-2022 school year gets underway in the Commonwealth. The Governor’s order makes up to 250 personnel available. Beginning with training on Tuesday, 90 Guard members will prepare for service in Chelsea, Lawrence, Lowell, and Lynn.

These Guard personnel will be available to serve as drivers of school transport vans known as 7D vehicles to address staffing shortages in certain districts.

As with any school transportation worker, all activated Guard personnel will complete vehicle training to ensure the safety of children and families. Drivers will meet all statutory requirements for 7D drivers. Throughout the mission, the Guard will comply with all health and safety measures.

The mission will not interfere with the Massachusetts National Guard’s ability to respond to and assist in emergencies within the Commonwealth.

The Massachusetts National Guard trains regularly with military, law enforcement, and civilian agencies to provide a broad spectrum of services in support of security, logistics, disaster relief, and other missions. The Guard has a proven track record of success supporting civilian authorities. Their frequent side-by-side training with state and local first responders makes them well-suited for a variety of missions.

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