SEEKONK — With more people enjoying the outdoors during the summer months, Superintendent Rich Drolet, on behalf of Seekonk Public Schools, wishes to remind community members of important safety tips to prevent mosquito bites and avoid mosquito-borne diseases.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, mosquito bites in the state typically result in skin irritation and itching. However, serious diseases including West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) are also spread by mosquitoes in rare instances. These viruses can cause illness ranging from a mild fever to more serious disease like encephalitis or meningitis.
The DPH reports that since EEE was first detected in the state in 1938, there have been approximately 115 cases, with the majority of cases having been from Bristol, Plymouth and Norfolk counties. The most recent outbreak, which began in 2019, included 12 cases with six fatalities, and the outbreak continued into 2020 with five cases resulting in one fatality.
West Nile virus was first detected in the United States in 1999. Since the majority of those exposed to West Nile virus have no symptoms, it’s difficult to identify exactly how many people have been infected. Only those who develop severe illnesses with West Nile virus are often reported. Between 2011 and 2020, there have been 148 cases of West Nile virus across the state with seven fatalities.
DPH has reported that a mosquito tested positive for West Nile virus for the first time this year in Medford and Boston.
Seekonk Public Schools wishes to share the following tips from the CDC, which can be used to prevent mosquito and mosquito bites from occurring:
- Utilize insect repellents that are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and have one of the following active ingredients: DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone.
- Reapply insect repellent as directed and follow instructions outlined on the label of the product you are using.
- Apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
- Do not apply insect repellent on the skin beneath clothing.
- Consider buying permethrin-treated clothing and gear, or using permethrin to treat your clothing and gear. Do not use permethrin products directly on skin.
- Wear long sleeved shirts and pants.
- Use an indoor insect fogger or indoor insect spray to kill mosquitoes and treat areas where they rest. Always follow label instructions.
- To prevent mosquito bites when traveling overseas choose a hotel or lodging with air conditioning or screens on windows and doors, or sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are outside or in a room that does not have screens.
- Parents, guardians and caregivers of babies and children are advised:
- Dress children in long layers to cover their arms and legs.
- Use mosquito netting to cover strollers and baby carriers outdoors.
- Remember, when using insect repellent on a child, follow instructions on the label and never use products that contain oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol on children under 3-years-old.
- NEVER apply insect repellent on a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, cuts or irritated skin.
- To apply insect repellent to a child’s face, carefully spray it onto your hands and apply it to the skin.
Residents are also advised to prepare their homes and properties to avoid mosquitoes from laying their eggs in the area, and to prevent insects from getting indoors. This can be done by maintaining screens and doors properly and repairing any holes, utilizing air conditioning where possible, and regularly checking your property for standing water and clearing it out. Mosquitos are known to lay their eggs in and around water.
For more mosquito bite prevention tips click here.