(NECN: Jack Thurston, Burlington, Vt.) - Significant rainfall over the past few weeks in Vermont, followed by warm weather, created conditions that could be favorable to mosquito breeding, state entomologist Alan Graham told New England Cable News Monday.
He said he and other Vt. Agriculture Agency employees will spend the next several weeks closely monitoring the mosquito situation and working with the Vt. Health Dept. to ensure public health is not put at risk by the insects that can carry diseases.
"The mosquitoes here are terrible," said Ken Grillo, whose summer home sits on the shores of Lake Champlain's Malletts Bay in Colchester, Vt. "It can get nasty in the evening. Very nasty."
In other communities, more notorious for the bugs, Graham and other insect experts are setting traps to collect mosquitoes. The team was in the Rutland, Vt. area Monday, installing traps in towns including Hubbardton. Teams will monitor the traps to track the possible presence of diseases like Eastern Equine Encephalitis.
Last year, EEE killed two Vermonters and forced aerial chemical spraying. Graham said larvae-killing pesticides have been applied to swampy areas in some Vermont communities including Brandon, Leicester, and Salisbury.
The Vt. Health Dept. said expanded trapping and monitoring efforts in 2013 will help it determine if additional larger-scale sprays are necessary. Aerial spraying took place in 2012. "We'll be able to kind of tailor our response in terms of spraying," said Health Dept. Commissioner Dr. Harry Chen. "And it may not require any spraying. It may require localized spraying, like with a helicopter or an ATV, or we may need to go back to an aerial spray. But that's not something I would take lightly."
Graham told NECN despite concerns of warmer weather and pooled water from rain storms, it does not appear that the mosquito season is off to an unusually bad start. He did note that many Vermont communities are likely seeing mosquito activity, most commonly at dusk. Graham said he personally recommends insect repellants that contain the ingredient DEET as a way to deal with potential headaches from mosquitoes.
Chen noted that in 2012, more rigorous health recommendations were issued in communities where EEE was located, including Salisbury, Orwell, Brandon, and Whiting. Those included recommendations for wearing long sleeves and pants, shutting windows, and limiting outdoor activity during the evening hours in affected towns. However, for now, Chen said by all means, he wants people to enjoy the outdoors and remain active, because serious health risks from mosquitoes are very low, and no problems have been detected this year. Even when the testing starts in earnest later this month, the worst concerns, like EEE, don't tend to pop up until July or August, Chen said.
Ken Grillo will be watching for any updated health advisories, should any problems arise. He told NECN he is glad for the new screened-in porch he installed on his property, and hopes it will help him and his family avoid being bugged by mosquitoes this summer. "It's great," he beamed. "That keeps the mosquitoes on that side and keeps us on the other side."
Click here for more information on EEE from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Click here for more information from the CDC on another mosquito-borne disease, West Nile Virus.