With the mosquito virus danger the worst it’s been in years, and with the first frost nowhere in sight, the state is planning to spray numerous communities in three counties, including four Attleboro area towns in Norfolk County.
Foxboro, Wrentham, Norfolk and Franklin are scheduled for aerial spraying into next week, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources.
Areas slated to be sprayed are considered at critical and high risk for the Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus.
Norfolk and Franklin are entirely in the spray zone while Foxboro and Wrentham are partly in it.
Other communities in Norfolk County earmarked for spraying are Bellingham, Medway, Millis, Medfield, Walpole, Sharon, Norwood, Westwood, Dover, Needham, and Wellesley.
While aerial spraying is weather-dependent, above average evening temperatures this week are likely to allow it to go forward, authorities say.
Plans for subsequent rounds of spraying will include critical and high-risk communities in other counties, including Bristol County, officials said. Many of those communities have already been sprayed.
There are 36 communities now at critical risk, 42 at high risk, and 115 at moderate risk for EEE in Massachusetts.
The virus has already proven deadly. A Fairhaven woman died from it last month and just this past weekend EEE claimed the life of a West Warwick, R.I., man.
There have been seven human cases of EEE in Massachusetts, including a 5-year-old girl from Sudbury.
Also, eight horses have been infected with EEE in Massachusetts as well as a goat in Norton. Animals usually have to be put down once they contract the virus. MDAR reminds horse owners to promptly vaccinate their animals and get booster shots to ensure proper protection from EEE.
To date, 400 mosquito samples have proven positive for EEE, with 65 showing presence of West Nile Virus, which also can pose serious health problems. WNV has been found in Attleboro and Seekonk.
It is the first time in seven years planes have been used to spray for mosquitoes in Massachusetts.
Other years, spraying has been done from the ground.
State officials are urging residents throughout Massachusetts to continue to take personal precautions to prevent mosquito bites.
That includes eliminating standing water on property, limiting outdoor activities between dusk and dawn, using screens and insect repellent, and wearing long-sleeve shirts and long pants.
“Even as temperatures cool, it’s vitally important for us to remember that mosquito season is not over and that we all need to continue to take steps to prevent mosquito bites,” Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel said.
Health officials also advise rescheduling evening outdoor activities. Rehoboth recently moved its outdoor concerts to an earlier time as a result.
EEE occurs sporadically in Massachusetts with the most recent outbreak years from 2004-2006 and 2010-2012. There were 22 human cases of EEE infection during those two outbreaks.
Residents are encouraged to visit the DPH website at www.mass.gov/eee for the latest updates on spraying in their communities and other information.