Post-Sundown Activities Not Worth It to Risk EEE [OPINION]
Eastern Equine Encephalitis, commonly known as EEE, is a nasty virus. It's supposed to be rare. There have only been 100 cases in Massachusetts over the last 90 years, but many mosquitoes have tested positive in Massachusetts this summer at four times the norm and of course, the fourth human case struck the hearts of all on the SouthCoast this weekend.
Laurie Sylvia of Fairhaven succumbed to the virus in just under a week of being treated. She was the wife of Teamsters Union Local 59 president and business agent Robert Sylvia, Jr. and mom to three children, including Jen Sylvia, who left a nation touched with her emotional but eloquent announcement to her family and friends that her mom had passed via social media.
This tragedy reminds us all that it is the mosquito, of all creatures on the earth, that kills more humans than any other. It is no consolation to the Sylvia family that EEE is still regarded as a rare disease. It has had a major impact on their lives, and forever.
As curious as we all are about how this grieving family is doing, I hope the media and the public will create a wide berth for their privacy as they go forward in these very tough days to come.
My hope is also that people will not just rely on the government to take care of this. We are all under threat here. Don't leave stagnant water in your yards. Dump out tires that collect pools of water, birdbaths, unused koi ponds, trash barrels and other things that pool water, which are perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Destroy as many habitats such as these that you can.
Use proven mosquito repellents (if you can find it). Several stores that I went to recently were sold out. Now is not a good time to experiment with holistic or organic, improperly tested products.
Wear long-sleeve shirts and try to minimize outdoor activity from 90 minutes before sundown and until two hours after sunrise.
I'm even watching videos on how to build bat houses on trees and sheds to encourage more to be around in my yard. They eat many mosquitoes each night.
When requesting the Bristol County Mosquito Control to spray your yard, be sure to knock on your neighbor's doors and ask them to do so as well to create a larger radius of destroyed mosquito territory.
Adding apple cider vinegar to standing water effectively kills mosquito larvae but requires about 18 hours to get the job done. Completely non-toxic, vinegar kills mosquito larvae at a ratio of 15 percent vinegar to 85 percent water. Make sure you use enough vinegar; lower concentrations don't kill the larvae.
I was pleased to learn that sports practices and band practices are to end at 5:30 p.m. in my town of Dartmouth.
Mayor Mitchell has made sensible bans for activity in public parks and other places in the City of New Bedford, likely until after a good frost, which we should not expect for another 50-55 days.
Take this seriously, because EEE, rare or not, really has a nasty side to it and can show up on your door at any given moment. It doesn't care about the odds given to us by statisticians.
May God give the Sylvia family the comfort and strength to get through this terrible loss.
Ken Pittman is the host of The Ken Pittman Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Contact him at ken.pittman@