For Immediate Release
Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019
Media Contact: Benjamin Paulin
Email: [email protected]
Medfield EEE Risk Elevated to Critical Following Death of Horse
Officials Implement 7 p.m. Curfew for All Town and School Outdoor Activities
MEDFIELD — Town Administrator Kristine Trierweiler, the Medfield Board of Health and Medfield Public Schools Superintendent Jeffrey Marsden report that the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) has elevated the town’s risk for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) from “moderate” to “critical” on Thursday morning in light of the death of a horse that tested positive for the virus.
All Town and Medfield Public Schools outdoor activities, including sports practices, will now end at 7 p.m. and night games will be rescheduled to the daytime or weekends.
Norfolk County Mosquito Control has been notified of the new designation and will conduct spraying in Medfield on Friday, Aug. 30, after dusk.
The Town 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.
“This critical EEE designation is concerning, especially since it has been linked to the death of a horse in town,” Town Administrator Trierweiler said. “We will be meeting to discuss what further steps need to be taken and recommend that all residents use caution while outside during dusk and dawn hours when mosquitoes are most likely to bite.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the EEE virus is a rare cause of brain infections, or encephalitis. There are very few human EEE cases each year but the virus can be fatal or leave victims with serious, lifelong health complications.
“Due to the seriousness of this issue, we will be working with the athletic department and our coaches to make sure that all outdoor practices end at 7 p.m. for the time being and will be working diligently to reschedule any night games coming up,” Superintendent Marsden said. “The safety of our students is our number one priority and we will be taking all precautions to prevent our students from being outdoors when mosquitoes are at their worst.”
Town and state officials 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 3 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.
“Medfield is now one of many communities throughout the region that have been given the critical designation by DPH,” said Medfield Health Agent Nancy Bennotti. “We will continue to update residents as needed and ask that they adhere to the 7 p.m. curfew for outdoor activities. If anyone believes they are exhibiting signs of having contracted the EEE virus please seek medical help immediately.”