On Thursday evening the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) will begin spraying in East Boston to help control the mosquito population in the neighborhood.
The Suffolk County Mosquito Control Project will use truck-mounted aerosol sprayers to complete the work on Thursday, August 1, between dusk and 11:30 p.m. Spraying is scheduled to take place near Orient Heights, including streets in the vicinity of Orient Avenue, Boardman Street, Andrew Road, and Horace Street. If spraying needs to be postponed due to weather, it will be rescheduled for Monday, August 5.
The spray formulation utilizes the pesticide sumithrin to control the mosquito population. Mosquito control applications of sumithrin do not pose a significant risk to people or pets due to the chemical’s low toxicity and small amount used in spraying. As with any pesticide, people are advised to minimize their exposure to the chemical. If people see a spray truck approaching, they should go indoors for a few minutes while the spray dissipates. Residents are also advised to close any windows that face the street during the scheduled spraying hours.
While the pesticide poses little risk to people, BPHC and the Suffolk County Mosquito Control Project attempt to minimize the amount of aerosolized spraying that is done in Eastie. Other methods of mosquito control, such as applying larvicides to catch basins and wetlands around the neighborhood are a priority.
Last year an East Boston man was infected with the West Nile Virus (WNV). The man was in his 40s and hospitalized for a week but recovered with no complications. The Eastie man was one of four confirmed case of WNV in the city last year.
While Mosquitoes in Eastie have yet to test positive for WNV this summer, past summers have shown that the neighborhood is not immune to the threat.
While WNV is most commonly transmitted to humans by the bite of a mosquito infected with the virus, WNV poses very low risk to humans. But even that low risk can be reduced if people take a few simple steps to protect themselves and their families.
Those steps include using insect repellant when outdoors, especially from dusk to dawn when mosquitoes are more likely to be biting; wearing clothing with long sleeves and pants, when possible; mosquito-proofing your home by ensuring that window and door screens are in good repair to prevent mosquitoes from getting into the house; preventing mosquitoes from breeding in standing water by turning over unused flower pots, buckets, wheelbarrows, and garbage cans; removing leaves and other debris that can clog gutters and trap water; and disposing of or covering old tires; and covering swimming pools and kiddie pools when not in use.
About one in 150 people infected with WNV will develop severe illness. The severe symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent.
Up to 20 percent of the people who become infected have symptoms such as fever, headache, and body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. Symptoms can last for as short as a few days, though even healthy people have become sick for several weeks.
Approximately 80 percent of people (about four out of five) who are infected with WNV will not show any symptoms at all.
People typically develop symptoms between three and 14 days after the infected mosquito bites them.
There is no specific treatment for WNV infection. In cases with milder symptoms, people experience symptoms such as fever and aches that pass on their own, although even healthy people have become sick for several weeks. In more severe cases, people usually need to go to the hospital where they can receive supportive treatment including intravenous fluids, help with breathing and nursing care.
Milder WNV illness improves on its own, and people do not necessarily need to seek medical attention for this infection though they may choose to do so. If you develop symptoms of severe WNV illness, such as unusually severe headaches or confusion, seek medical attention immediately.