Westford Board of Health takes Triple E precautions


Kavya Desikan

The fields of Westford Academy

Keertana Gangireddy, Photography Editor

 On September 10th, 2019, the fields of Westford Academy, Stony Brook Middle School, and Abbott Elementary School were sprayed down with the Zenivex E4 pesticide to take action against the spread of Triple E and WNV.

Triple E (Eastern Equine Encephalitis), and WNV (West Nile Virus) are both illnesses that occur through the bite of infected mosquitoes. There have been threats in several Massachusetts towns, leaving several people and animals dead, or in critical condition. Although Westford is considered an area of low risk as of now, the Westford Board of Health has deemed it necessary to take precautions toward the viruses and spread awareness throughout the town.

A statement written by Westford Health Director Jeffrey Stephens was sent out on September 3rd, informing people about the threat of the viruses. 

“While our risk is low, it is important for you to know that we are closely monitoring the surveillance data every day to ensure the town is prepared to take appropriate action to reduce the risk of mosquito-borne illness. On [August 29th, 2019], Several Town Departments met, which included the Health Department, School Department, Parks and Recreation, Highway Department, and the Facilities Department, to discuss and prepare for an appropriate response to a change in the town’s risk level,” the statement read.

That same week, Superintendent of Schools, Bill Olsen, sent out a voicemail to the residents of Westford, informing them that the sports fields of schools will be sprayed down to ensure the safety of students.

Director of Athletics, Jeffrey Bunyon, worked closely with the Board of Health to arrange the spraying down of the fields.

“The Town of Westford will continue to work with Central Massachusetts Mosquito Control treating sensitive areas of the town during the mosquito season. They have been and will continue to actively conduct surveillance for mosquito-borne illness in Westford until the first frost,” Bunyon said.

The spray on the fields has not affected athletics. However, Bunyon, along with the Board of Health, advises people to be careful while outdoors.

“The safety of everyone in the Westford community is paramount,” Bunyon said. “All community members should take precautions during dusk to dawn outdoor activities.”

These precautions include limiting time outdoors during the dusk and dawn, the time of high mosquito activity, and wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants. Residents are recommended to use mosquito repellent, inhibit mosquito breeding by removing stagnant pools of water nearby, and ensure that any window screens are tightly attached with no holes.

The nurses of Westford Academy have been following the recent break out of the viruses closely, working on spreading awareness to students.

“We work with the students to teach them to protect themselves with bug spray […] we’re getting out the word that the town is spraying for it in the fields of the high school and the middle schools […] So, we would assess a student with bug bites or any complaints of symptoms of encephalitis,” nurse Kathleen Bourdeau said. “[If a student was to come down to the office with symptoms of the viruses], we would contact the parents immediately and get them to a hospital.” 

For more information, or questions, contact the Westford Health Department at 978-692-5509.