SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

October 25, 2012

After scare, trick or treat will go on in Hamilton

Health board cautions that mosquitoes are still a threat

By Bethany Bray STAFF WRITER
The Salem News

---- — HAMILTON — There could be danger lurking as youngsters trick-or-treat next week: mosquitoes.

The Board of Health voted to lift its ban on outdoor activities last night, which means Hamilton’s little ghouls, goblins and superheroes will be allowed to trick-or-treat on Halloween.

However, the board still recommends that residents avoid outdoor activities due to the risk of mosquito-borne Eastern equine encephalitis.

“It’s a tough decision, but at this point in time, it’s the right decision,” Chairman Lindle Willnow said last night.

Willnow urged residents to continue to take “extreme precautions” when outdoors, covering as much skin as possible and using mosquito repellent.

“I have seen mosquitoes since Oct. 13 (when temperatures dipped below freezing),” Willnow said. “They’re still around.”

Hamilton adopted a ban on organized outdoor activities in the first week of October, after a horse in neighboring Essex contracted EEE.

Mosquitoes have tested positive for both EEE and West Nile virus in several North Shore communities this fall, including Hamilton, Wenham, Topsfield and Peabody. Massachusetts has had seven confirmed human cases of EEE this year, three of which were fatal.

Wenham’s Board of Health enacted a ban on public organized outdoor activities, such as youth sports, earlier this month, which remains in effect. The board will meet to discuss the ban tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. at Wenham Town Hall, 138 Main St.

EEE remains a threat until the region has a hard frost. Last night, Willnow said there is conflicting information on whether or not a frost occurred overnight on Oct. 12: The Massachusetts Department of Public Health says it didn’t, while the National Weather Service says it did.

It is unlikely that a hard frost will occur before Halloween — the region’s weather forecast shows temperatures in the 50s and 60s for the next week.

Town officials have opted to spray mosquito insecticide repeatedly in Hamilton, Wenham and Ipswich this fall, as a precaution against EEE and West Nile virus.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, most people bitten by an infected mosquito develop no symptoms. Severe cases begin with flu-like symptoms, including fever, chills and vomiting.

Bethany Bray can be reached at bbray@salemnews.com and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.