Nearby EEE cases have Wellesley buzzing

The Town of Wellesley has updated its guidance regarding Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), while concerned residents have been circulating a letter and petition they plan to send to the Board of Selectmen and Board of Health.

Testing has shown low mosquito counts in Wellesley and no EEE-infected ones, so Wellesley remains at a low risk level for EEE even as Sudbury, Sherborn and other communities have been affected. But the Health Department on Monday recommended that “residents take additional precautions by staying indoors during peak mosquito times and continuing to use insect repellent to prevent mosquito bites.”

The town issued an earlier update on the EEE threat in late August.

Outdoor activities such as sports games and practices that occur in the later evening or early morning hours may need to be restricted or rescheduled, according to the town.  WPS home games and practices are generally finished before 6 p.m. and the district is continuing to work with neighboring communities to reschedule away games if needed. Town playing fields remain open.

The town has no plans to spray for mosquitoes. But if the risk level is elevated, it will consider doing so. The Health Department, Natural Resources Commission (NRC) and Department of Public Works have a pest management program to limit the use of pesticide spraying.

A letter circulating among residents and that had dozens of accompanying signatures as of Monday afternoon reads as follows:

We are writing to express our concern over our children’s potential
exposure to EEE when playing sports in town during the late afternoon
and evening when mosquitos become most active. As you are aware, EEE
infected mosquitos have been found in communities increasingly close
to Wellesley. Given that symptoms don’t show up until three to ten
days after a bite, exposure has become widespread well before anyone
is diagnosed and a town’s risk status is elevated.

We believe that Wellesley should respond proactively to this growing
threat with immediate and widespread spraying, with a particular focus
on the playing fields.

We appreciate your prompt attention to this matter.

To date, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has confirmed 7 human cases of EEE in the Commonwealth this year.