SouthCoast Expert Assesses EEE and West Nile Virus Threats
April showers bring May flowers, but July and August often bring dangerous mosquito-borne diseases to our area. Mosquitos often carry Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile Virus and are happy to share them with humans.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis is more common in July and August, while West Nile Virus generally shows up from August to October. EEE tends to come in three or four-year cycles. West Nile Virus is present almost every year.
The severity of both diseases can depend upon weather conditions. Wet conditions can result in more disease-bearing mosquitos, while hot, dry weather could mean fewer bugs.
In Plymouth County, aerial spraying of swampland was scheduled to start April 14 and run for several days.
The Superintendent of the Bristol County Mosquito Control Project (BCMCP), Priscilla Manton, said that according to the cycle dating back to the 1930s, 2022 could be a quiet year for EEE in our area. Manton also said, however, the cycle has been less reliable in recent years, so it's anybody's guess what will happen.
You may recall 2019 when concerns about EEE-infected mosquitos resulted in local communities canceling many evening events, such as sports and other gatherings. The St. George Greek Food Festival was canceled and the Joe Jesus '50s Night celebration shifted its hours so that people could be home before the mosquitos came out.
Manton said 2019 "was the most active for EEE for the entire state." She said 2020 was more active for Plymouth County than Bristol County, while 2021 was "not very active." Manton said the cycle indicates that 2022 should be quiet, but a lot depends on how the weather behaves.
May and June's weather should provide clues as to how Eastern Equine Encephalitis impacts the region, while July and August could determine the severity of the West Nile Virus season.
Manton suggests that residents take steps now to help reduce the mosquito population by eliminating standing water in their yards. She said water-covered pool covers, wet, cluttered gutters, empty plant pots, and anything else that holds water are perfect breeding grounds for mosquitos right now. Old tires should be removed from your property as they can collect water.
The Bristol County Mosquito Control Project is taking lavraside requests now to come to your property and treat areas of standing water. After Memorial Day, BCMCP will schedule requests for spraying. Manton said spraying can only occur during the overnight hours, specifically between 2 a.m. and sunrise, with a temperature of about 55 degrees.
You can schedule both by calling (508) 823-5253.
Manton recommends residents wear long sleeves and pants during mosquito season and that they try to limit their time outdoors at dawn and dusk.
Manton encourages using bug spray with either DEET or PICARIDIN, when outdoors in the early morning or evening hours. She warns, however, that bug spray is only effective if reapplied every few hours.