Officials Keeping Close Eye on Number of Mosquitoes in Mass. | NECN

Officials Keeping Close Eye on Number of Mosquitoes in Mass.



    Mass. officials have found 9 communities with WNV mosquitoes (Published Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014)

    (NECN: Ally Donnelly, Belmont, Mass.) - Belle Haggett and crew load up their boat and head out onto the marsh to study tides near Newbury, Mass.

    The young researchers from the Massachusetts Biological Laboratory tote buckets for samples, but bring plenty of bug spray and proper clothing, too.

    "I keep a bandanna on at all times so I can flip it around and put it over my ears put it over the back of my neck over my face whatever is getting attacked," Haggett said.

    Like the rest of us, the trio doesn't want to get munched by pesky mosquitoes - particularly ones caring disease

    "Your likelihood of contracting it is pretty low," Haggett said, "but you know, nobody wants to take that chance."

    Though to date, there have been no mosquitoes found carrying EEE -- Eastern Equine Encephalitis -- as of June 17, the state has found mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus in nine communities: Belmont, Fall River, Lynn, Newbury, Pittsfield, Sharon, Waltham, Westport and Whitman.

    The state risk is still considered low, but officials say the findings prove that West Nile is circulating throughout the Commonwealth.

    "You could get one or two or you could get hundreds," Jack Card, director of the state's Northeast Massachusetts Mosquito Control, said.

    As he checks traps in Newbury, card says skeeter talk might dominate backyard barbecues right now, but this year isn't particularly worse than others.

    "People -- sometimes they remember and sometimes they forget," Card said, "and their threshold of pain is different."

    To date, there have been no human cases of West Nile or EEE, but we didn't see our first human cases in the Bay State until August last year.

    "Every day is a little bit different depending on the weather conditions," he said. "It's never really over til it's over, so to speak."

    And the bothersome buzz could be worse for about 20 percent of the population that new research says are especially delicious to mosquitoes. Published in Smithsonian magazine, studies show higher body temperatures attract mosquitoes, so pregnant women and people working out tend to be bitten more. Inexplicably, people who've recently had a beer and folks with type O blood, like Adam Bouche, are particularly tasty.

    "Good for donations, bad for mosquitoes," Bouche laughed.