Despite last summer’s public health threat declaration for mosquitoes and two children in recent years being stricken by Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), not every town is opting to fund mosquito control programs.
Last August’s public health threat declaration by Gov. John Lynch prompted some towns to engage in spraying for adult mosquitoes late in the season last year, including Goffstown, where a four-year-old boy contracted EEE in 2005.
The following year, said Town Administrator Sue Desruisseaux, the spraying issue was debated, but ultimately, funding was not allocated.
“A lot of people felt that people should take personal responsibility (in safeguarding against mosquitoes),” Desruisseaux said.
Though there was no funding for last year’s spraying, after the public health threat came down from the state, the town shared the cost with other entities in town, Desruisseaux said.
“Goffstown completed its first spraying in September 2012 based on testing results of mosquitoes in the area,” Desruisseaux said. “Our special permit included all athletic fields for the Goffstown School District, the Villa Augustina School, Saint Anselm College, Lions Fields, and the Parks andRecreation Fields.”
The estimated cost was just under $6,000, Desruisseaux said.
The town did not include any money in its budget for spraying this year, she added.
“We’ve not budgeted anything for spraying,” she said. “We’ll spray based on the conditions.”
The town of Candia chose to do spraying the year after a 3-year-old girl was diagnosed with EEE in 2009, said Selectman Richard Snow.
“In 2010, we did the larvicide, but no adult spraying,” he said. “When the EEE issue came up, we sprayed the school grounds and the parks, but that was it.”
The town has not budgeted for spraying and has not sprayed for mosquitoes since that time. In Salem, mosquito control is well underway, with crews checking vernal pools, swamps, catch basins, ditches and other areas of stagnant water for mosquito larvae and pupae.
“They started the week of April 8, and they’ll go until October,” said Salem Health Officer Brian Lockard.
At an annual cost of about $48,000, Lockard said the thrust of Salem’s mosquito control program is in prevention, though some adult spraying is done.
“We’re trying to find them in their young stage, before they become flying adults,” he said.
The town has key areas sprayed for adult mosquitoes around the July 4 holiday, Lockard said, which includes town athletic fields, and would do additional adult spraying on an as needed basis. “If we felt it was necessary, we would consider more adult spraying,” he said.
Last year, one mosquito in one batch tested positive for the West Nile Virus, Lockard said, but the decision was made not to do a spraying.
“That was the end of the season,” he said. “We were only getting one, two, three a night in the traps, and the mosquito activity had really dropped because it was getting cooler, so we made the decision not to spray.”
Summer is also the time when mosquitoes are randomly trapped, sent to the state and tested for disease, Lockard added.
“That tells you what activity there is, and they’ll identify the species – some are more high risk for carrying EEE and West Nile,” he said.
Lockard said the town feels the mosquito control program is an important community service, especially the testing portion.
“You don’t want to find out about it by a person contracting EEE or West Nile,” he said.
Bedford provides no mosquito control programs, preferring to encourage its residents to assume personal responsibility for keeping mosquitoes at bay.
“It is, and has been, the position of the Bedford Health Department that personal protection is the most effective and cost effective preventative program,” said health officer Wayne Richardson. “We felt if any actions were needed, then the use of insect repellant wipes would be the most effective cost efficient method available to the town.”
Richardson said about three or four years ago the town conducted mosquito testing and did not turn up any positive pools.
“Since then the council has not been inclined to provide any funding for this type of activity,” he said.
According to Richardson, given the restrictions for spraying near wetlands, the short duration of the effectiveness of ground spraying and the need for landowner permission when spraying near private property, the concept of spraying never made it beyond a cost/benefit analysis.
Hooksett is opting to take a wait-and-see approach, said Public Works Director Leo Lessard.
“We’re not taking any steps at this time to do any spraying for this year,” he said, but added that the town did spray for adult mosquitoes shortly after the public health threat was announced by the state at a cost of roughly $2,500 to $3,000.
“I’m just going to play it by ear, and if it gets bad and we have to spray, then we’ll definitely spray,” he said.