Due to concerns over the potentially deadly EEE virus, one Massachusetts community is changing their trick-or-treat hours this Halloween.
Halloween trick-or-treating will be held Oct. 31 from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., Methuen Mayor James Jajuga announced Friday on the city's website.
"The health and safety of Methuen's children is everyone's top priority," Jajuga said in a statement. "These Halloween hours will allow children and families to enjoy trick or treating in a safe manner."
This year's time change is to minimize mosquito exposure during dusk, when the insects are most active.
There have been 12 human cases of EEE, or eastern equine encephalitis, this year. Three people have died from the mosquito-borne illness in the state, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Several others have died in Rhode Island and Connecticut this year.
Methuen is one of the 35 Massachusetts communities at critical risk for EEE. Forty-six communities are at high risk.
"The City is acting out of an abundance of caution to ensure that children can enjoy Halloween safely," Jajuga said.
A hard freeze, in which temperatures drop below freezing for several hours, will wipe out mosquito populations for the year, which may take place as soon as this weekend. The city didn't say whether such a freeze would affect the trick-or-treat timing.