WESTBOROUGH, Mass. — While ground-based spraying and further precautions have begun in Westborough, mosquito-borne illnesses are still being identified. West Nile virus was found in Ashland, Hopkinton, Marlborough, Hudson and Westborough on Wednesday, and Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) was found in Hopkinton.
Ashland health director Mark Oram released a statement Thursday saying that spraying would begin shortly and that precautions should be taken to prevent the mosquito population from growing.
"If you discover ponding water in your town or somewhere else, it's good to let the officials know," Oram said.
The state Department of Public Health said the species of mosquito found in Hopkinton is called Culex and primarily bites birds.
Ashland residents will be notified before the start of spraying through the reverse-911 system. The pesticide used is sumithrin, and it is generally distributed by sprayers mounted on the back of trucks, according to Tim Deschamps, executive director at Central Massachusetts Mosquito Contol.
Westborough has been on alert for some time, and precautions should still be followed, although West Nile is more common and less dangerous than EEE.
"It's [West Nile virus] made us more aware and has increased our trapping program. We're hoping it's increased public awareness," Deschamps said. "We're continuing to monitor the situation and respond as needed."
Deschamps said the mild winter and warm summer are possible culprits for the enhanced mosquito population. Trapping and spraying are done in areas that are deemed high-risk for people to be bitten. Trapped mosquitoes are classified by species and sent for testing every Tuesday at a lab in Jamaica Plains. The most recently tested batch was trapped Aug. 14.
Deschamps said the mosquito control program includes ensuring that streams are clean and flowing, managing larvae in swamps and prevention through education at schools and senior centers.