, Salem, MA

Local News

August 31, 2013

Town opts not to spray

Hamilton board: Insecticide is 'least effective' way to lower risk of West Nile

Mosquitoes collected this week in Beverly, Hamilton and several other Essex County communities have tested positive for West Nile virus.

Health officials in Hamilton, however, have decided not to spray mosquito insecticide. It’s a change from last summer, when insecticide was sprayed multiple times after infected mosquitoes were found in Hamilton.

This time around, Hamilton’s Board of Health decided that insecticide spraying is not the best option to reduce the risk of human infection, said Leslie Whelan, the town’s health agent.

“We’ve been preparing for this moment (a positive West Nile test),” said Whelan. “The Board of Health has been researching this for about a year now ... (and found that) spraying is the least effective means of controlling mosquito-borne disease in humans.”

“(Truck-sprayed insecticide) only kills mosquitoes for 20 minutes, and then new mosquitoes are hatching. And it’s toxic for the environment,” she said.

The state releases results of the week’s mosquito testing each Friday afternoon. In addition to Hamilton, mosquitoes in Beverly, Swampscott, Middleton, Saugus, Lynn and several other Essex County towns tested positive for West Nile virus this week.

West Nile mosquitoes were discovered in Beverly in the first week of August, and insecticide was sprayed in portions of Beverly in the following week. Beverly City Hall was closed yesterday afternoon and city health officials could not be reached for comment.

This week marks the first time a West Nile mosquito has been found in Hamilton this summer. The mosquito was collected Tuesday in a trap on Chebacco Road, said Whelan.

Hamilton’s Board of Health has been researching and discussing whether to spray since last summer, after several residents called with concerns about spraying, said Whelan. The board made the decision not to spray this spring and reaffirmed its choice at a meeting last week.

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