Methuen Takes Precautions after Critical EEE Assessment

City of Methuen
Mayor James Jajuga
Methuen City Hall
Searles Building
41 Pleasant St.
Methuen, MA 01844

For Immediate Release

Monday, Aug. 26, 2019

Media Contact: John Guilfoil
Phone: 617-993-0003
Email: [email protected]

Methuen Takes Precautions after Critical EEE Assessment

Evening Activities Cancelled 

Residents Urged to Use Caution and Limit Outdoor Activities after Sunset

Methuen Emergency Operations Center Activated

Areas West of I-93 to Undergo Spraying Wednesday Evening from 7:30 p.m. to Midnight

City officials will address the media at 7:30 TONIGHT, Monday, Aug. 26 at the Methuen Police Department Emergency Operations Center, 90 Hampshire St.

METHUEN — Mayor James Jajuga, Community Development Director William Buckley, Emergency Management Director and Police Chief Joseph Solomon and Fire Chief Tim Sheehy announce that the City of Methuen is taking a number of steps in response to the threat of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).

Earlier today, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health elevated the city’s risk for EEE to “critical” after a horse in the western portion of the city died from EEE. The horse died on Aug. 23 and tested positive for EEE today. A positive EEE test in an animal automatically raises a community’s threat level to “critical” — the highest  level.

As a result of this designation, the City of Methuen’s emergency management team met at 3:30 today with the following city officials present:

  • Mayor Jajuga
  • Chief of Staff/Chief Operating Officer Paul Fahey
  • School Superintendent Brandi Kwong
  • Chief Solomon
  • Police Captain Kristopher McCarthy
  • Chief Sheehy
  • Fire Communications Director John Molori
  • Economic & Community Development Director William Buckley
  • Public Health Agent Amy Ewing
  • School Facilities Director Bruce Stella
  • School Athletics Director Matt Curran
  • Recreation Director Bill Pare

During the meeting, the city has implemented a number of safety steps including:

  • The Methuen Emergency Operations Center activated at 4:30 p.m. Monday and will remain open until at least 12:30 a.m. Tuesday. Any resident with questions or concerns can call 978-382-3360 during that time.
  • The Methuen Health Department will provide staff starting at 8 a.m. Tuesday to field citizens calls and concerns. The health department can be reached at 978-983-8661 during normal business hours.
  • Additional telephone resources will be made available outside normal business hours if needed. Residents are also encouraged to visit the city website at cityofmethuen.net for regular updates.
  • Areas west of Rt. 93 will undergo mosquito spraying on Wednesday evening from 7:30 p.m. to midnight, weather permitting. In case of poor weather, spraying will occur on Thursday.
  • The City will formally request to the Mosquito Control and Wetlands Management District that the entire city, including parks and fields to be sprayed for mosquitoes
  • All outdoor events and public school sports practices and games on city property will have a hard end time of 7 p.m. until Sept. 30.
  • All outdoor events and public school sports practices and games on city property will have a hard end time of 6 p.m. from Oct. 1 through the first hard frost
  • Methuen Public Schools will distribute to families and students a revised schedule of athletic, band and other outdoor events.

The City of Methuen is part of the Northeast Massachusetts Mosquito Control District, a state agency that provides mosquito control activities to 36 communities in the region. The District ultimately determines when and where spraying occurs on a priority basis. 

The City is following DPH guidelines and advising all residents to limit outdoor exposure after sundown. Residents should strongly consider cancelling or rescheduling any planned outdoor activities until further notice.  Methuen residents are strongly advised to limit outside exposure after sundown for the time being.

“We are taking all precautions against EEE,” Mayor Jajuga said. “It is not common for a community in Essex County to face this level of concern for the virus, and we hope all residents read and follow these vital safety guidelines.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the EEE virus is a rare cause of brain infections or encephalitis. EEE causes very few human cases each year but can be fatal or leave victims with serious, lifelong complications.

The city and state offer the following important guidelines about EEE and mosquito-borne illness:

Avoid Mosquito Bites

  • Limit outdoor activities during peak mosquito hours. Consider cancelling or rescheduling planned outdoor evening events and activities. The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. If you are outdoors at any time and notice mosquitoes around you, take steps to avoid being bitten by moving indoors, covering up and/or wearing repellent.
  • Clothing can help reduce mosquito bites: Although it may be difficult to do when it’s hot, wearing long sleeves, long pants and socks while outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.
  • Apply insect repellent if you do go outdoors. Use a repellent with DEET, permethrin, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus according to the instructions on the product label. DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age and should be used in concentrations of 30 percent or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age. Permethrin products are intended for use on items such as clothing, shoes, bed nets and camping gear and should not be applied directly to your skin.

Mosquito-Proof Your Home

  • Drain standing water: Many mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by either draining or getting rid of items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty any unused flowerpots and wading pools and change water in birdbaths frequently.
  • Install or repair window and door screens: Some mosquitoes like to come indoors. Keep them outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all of your windows and doors.

Information about EEE and reports of current and historical EEE virus activity in Massachusetts can be found on the MDPH website here.

The Mosquito Control and Wetlands Management District offers the following tips for residents ahead of spraying:

  • Please keep pets and children indoors during the hours of the spray.
  • Please refrain from nightly walks on spray route during hours of scheduled spray activity.
  • Air conditioners left on are OK.
  • Close windows on the street side.
  • It is OK to re-open doors/windows and let pets out 15 minutes after spray is complete.

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