GRAFTON,Mass.- Should mosquito spraying return to Grafton?
The question will be asked on Monday’s Town Meeting when article 27 comes up for vote. The town dropped out of the Central Mass Mosquito Project, a state agency that sprays and studies the pests population, in 1990.
But this summer has been unusual. The CMMP collected over 35,000 specimens this season and found 65 carrying the West Nile Virus and nine with EEE, a record.
There have been warnings to stay indoors after dusk. School athletic programs, normally played under lights, have been rescheduled. Neighboring towns, like Westborough, have reported illnesses and death from West Nile and EEE. Almost all communities around the country have been dealing wih the problem.
No one knows exactly why this year was so bad and whether it will happen again next year. But the Board of Selectmen don’t want to take any chances. They are asking the residents, at $60,000 per season with a three year commitment, to approve rejoining the mosquito control program.
Timothy Deschamps, executive director of CMMCP, has been making the rounds. He was invited to a Board of Selectmen meeting in August and on Wednesday made two open house presentations, along with and Dr. Samuel Telford, a professor biomedical sciences and infectious disease research at Tufts.
On the Wednesday meeting, there were questions about the harm spraying would have on honey bees,plant life, animals, and humans. Reports from the Centers for Disease Control and the Environmental Protection Agency said the spray used, Sumithrin, is a synthetic version of a natural insecticide found in chrysanthemums. They said it has a good safety record, and used in low concentrations. The biggest problem, they said, is that if there is too much spraying, mosquitos can become immune. Deschamps said applications would be spread out enough to prevent that from happening.
A thorough question and answer session is available on this August health blog post.