You may have learned about an increased threat of EEE in mosquitos in neighboring Westborough. Somehow, Southborough’s threat increase wasn’t included in that coverage. Thankfully, the Executive Director of the Central Mass. Mosquito Control Project, Timothy D. Deschamps, lives in town. He reached out to share the news with blog readers
While it’s not as bad as some of the towns in Southern Mass with high risk, Southborough is one of the two towns west of that region that had triple E threat levels raised to “moderate”.
The CMMCP website explains:
Mosquitoes with Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) Virus were confirmed August 7 in two surveillance traps set July 30 by CMMCP in the northwestern part of town. Working with the Southboro Board of Health, truck-mounted Ultra-Low Volume (ULV) spraying was done in the area below on August 8 after sunset. A second application in this same area will be performed Monday August 12, weather permitting.
It’s important to note that spraying can reduce but not eliminate the threat of mosquito-borne illness in the areas that are sprayed. That’s why it’s important for individuals to continue to take personal precautions against mosquito bites, both before and after any spraying is conducted.
The notice listed the following streets as covered under the sprayings:
East Main St
Eastbrook Farm Ln
Old Harry Rd
Park Central Dr
Red Gate Ln
Rock Spring Ln
Saddle Hill Ln
Strawberry Hill Rd
The state has not had any reported cases of mosquito-borne Eastern equine encephalitis since one case in 2013. But, that could change this year, Timothy D. Deschamps Sr., executive director of the Central Massachusetts Mosquito Project, said. The number of cases of West Nile virus is also increasing.
He said the Northboro-based agency, which serves 42 Central Massachusetts communities, started testing for infected mosquitoes two weeks ago. None have been found, but last year, he pointed out, was a busy year for West Nile virus. The number of reported cases of the disease climbed from six in 2005 to 49 last year, according to the DPH.
Back in 2012, risk of EEE had town officials urging people to take precautions. You can read some of the tips they shared at that time here.
Just to be clear, ULV, ultra low volume, is not a reference to the concentration or volume of the pesticide used. It is method of dispersing pesticides with a very low volume of media, in most cases the media is water. It is a term for describing the mechanism not concentration. Use of this terminology in this context, when the public concern would the safety of pesticide spraying, is inappropriate.
This is nothing to joke about Folks, Mr. Deschamps knows his stuff, I knew a lady that had EEE and lived , when ever she was out in public people would walk away from her because they thought she was drunk, but it was the results of the disease. She has been called in for drunk driving and slurred speech on occasion, only to explain to the police that this was the results of EEE
According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC) the incidence of EEE in Worcester county is between 1 and 2 cases per ten million (10,000,000) residents on an annual basis. They express is this as 0.01 to 0.02 per 100,000. You can see the data yourself by Googling “CDC EEE Map”. If you look at the data, understand the even in those years that no cases are reported, the probability one could occur is still there. EEE is always lurking in the background.
This is a low probability or rare occurrence by any standard.
Mr. Deschamps and his organization are now attempting to vaccinate the general population of Southborough against this low probablity by spraying pesticide. What they should be able to do is show the following.
1) They reduce the occurrence of EEE and West Nile virus infections.
2) The negative effect of their method is significantly smaller than the impact in the reduction of the occurrence of EEE and West Nile they achieve.
The first one is difficult enough at these low probabilities, the second one is orders of magnitude more difficult to achieve. They may be able to show that detecting EEE and West Nile in mosquitos does increase the probably of infection, but they are still required to prove their methods actually reduce the probability of infection and then this reduction when measured against the negative impacts created is a net good.
I checked Central Mass Mosquito Control web page, could not find any information on effectiveness of disease prevention. If it is available it should be front and center since it is their goal.
When you start with probabilities in the order of 1 in 10,000,000 you have a significant problem with measurement and they have a difficult task.
If this were a one time event and they were making an attempt with good intention, that could be acceptable. It is not, EEE and Nile Virus are a given and routine in nature.
Pesticide are potent biological disrupters and have many wide ranging long term impacts. This makes justification even all the more difficult.
Now we take a page from the play book of a group at the other end of this spectrum, the anti-vaccination crowd. If any of the vaccines they are opposed to had warnings that the vaccine in question was highly toxic to invertebrates and aquatic species, you would have to peel them off the ceiling as they went into hysterics. They would be justifiably upset. And that is to prevent diseases many, many more times deadly in terms of the probability of infection.
By the way, you are being vaccinated with this spraying. If the fine droplets of pesticide can make contact with millions of mosquitoes and kill them, then as a being of monstrous proportion to mosquito, you are certainly incorporating this pesticide into your body chemistry.
Again, it is a risk benefit analysis with risks in the order of one part in 10,000,000. A tough nut to crack.
To be clear, this is not a weighing of the risks and benefits of pesticide and the need to use them in order to feed 7.5 billion of people. About a third of those don’t get enough to eat as it is. That is another much more complex analysis.
It is not a stretch of the imagination to think of this type of pesticide use as a vacine and should be justified as such.
If Mr. Deschamps didn’t issue a warning to the town of southboro, and all the other towns where EEE was found in the monitoring traps he wouldn’t be doing his job, and If someone was unfortunate to come down with EEE guess what , He would be the bad guy, and the first thing people would say, Why wasn’t there a warning issued. I for one wouldn’t want to be that 1 in 10,000,000 that got EEE or west Nile.
just received a call from southboro emergency management, that we are in a high threat area for EEE, Time to get the plane up and spray.the swamp areas in town. This is nothing to fool with.