Mosquito virus risk level increased in Amherst - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Mosquito virus risk level increased in Amherst

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One Hampshire County town is stepping up efforts to protect residents from mosquito borne illnesses.

It was a warm summer's night Friday in Amherst, perfect weather for a stroll downtown, a quick picnic or to catch a ball game.

But it's also perfect conditions for mosquitoes and the diseases they carry.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has determined the Eastern Equine Encephalitis risk level in Amherst to be moderate for the onset of this mosquito season.

When making the determination, the DPH said they considered last year's presence of EEE in mosquitoes in Amherst, and the incidents of EEE infected horses in Belchertown over the last two years.

They said EEE is an annual occurrence in Massachusetts that is measured by mosquito trapping.

Although there hasn't been a case of the disease reported yet, town officials say they're not taking any chances.

As a precaution, starting July 15, the town will be scheduling outdoor activities on playing fields and grassy areas to occur before sundown.

Officials said it is important to understand that no matter where you live, individuals should continue to take personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites and the illnesses they can cause.

"I usually keep some bug spray in the car in case it gets too bad," resident Alexia Rango said.  

Health officials also warn to avoid peak mosquito hours around dusk and dawn, wear long pants and socks when outside at night and to always use bug repellent.

It may seem like a hinder on you're summer fun, but playing it smart can keep you safe.

"Mosquitoes are definitely an annoyance. I wish they'd go away, but that's how life is," Rango said.  

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