Tuesday, June 9, Halifax Health Agent Cathleen Drinan and Dan Daly, of the Plymouth County Mosquito Control Board, were guest speakers at the monthly TRIAD meeting chaired by Ken Vinton.
A perennial topic this time of year, the two speakers recommend a risk-averse, prevention-based approach for senior citizens when it comes to mosquitos.
As many as 52 species exist in Massachusetts, but only a dozen or so carry the deadly diseases Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile Virus.
Both can be deadly, although EEE tends to make headlines as it makes all people sicker; West Nile Virus is something one could have had and never known it, but it can be much worse (or fatal) with older people and symptoms can be vague.
In order to fight mosquitos, the state does some aerial spraying. This is ineffective in swampy areas, though, and as mosquitos are attracted to standing water for breeding, residents can control their own properties by making sure any standing water areas, such as bird baths, outdoor furniture, any place where a puddle can sit for several days after rain, are emptied.
Another line of defense is using mosquito repellents. The first rule to using repellents properly is to follow the instructions on the label. It is important to look for an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration number on the product, which means that it has been tested for efficacy. “Natural” products, if they have no registration number, may never been have tested scientifically.
Some common products, which can be applied to the skin or clothing, include as their main repellent ingredient DEET, permethrin, IR3535, picaridin, as well as oil of lemon eucalyptus. A few of these are effective against ticks as well, but read the labels well to be sure.
Wearing long sleeves in the evening, tucking your pants into your socks, even applying a product to a tube sock with the closed end cut off of the sock and pulling it over your clothes can be helpful.
One note: The federal EPA does not recommend mixing sunscreen with any mosquito repellant. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health does not issue any warning.
A presentation on ticks that occurred Tuesday at 2 p.m. will be repeated on Monday, June 15 at 6:30 p.m., at the Holmes Public Library, Route 106, Halifax. That program is aimed at the general public, not just the senior population and is sponsored by the Halifax Board of Health and the Norwell Visiting Nurse Association. All are encouraged to attend.