Because of the threat of the EEE virus, officials have decided all after-school activities and sports will end no later than 7 p.m. until Sept. 30.

All school facilities, including the high school track and various playing fields, will close at 7 p.m., also until Sept. 30.

The decision comes after the city’s Board of Health recommended that all nighttime outdoor events, activities and sports practices and games be cancelled or postponed until further notice, in response to a dead horse infected with the EEE virus found last week in Methuen.

Mayor James Fiorentini stressed that no mosquitoes infected with Eastern Equine Encephalitis have been found this year in Haverhill, but that the Northeast Massachusetts Mosquito Control District is conducting supplemental trapping and testing of mosquitoes in the city.

The mosquito control district, of which Haverhill is a member, is also spraying catch basins and other fresh water areas in Haverhill with larvicide, the mayor said.

Residents are advised to stay indoors from dusk to dawn, to the extent possible, until the first frost.

The public is urged to take precautions against mosquito bites including avoiding outdoor activities from dusk to dawn, using insect repellent, and wearing long sleeves and long pants. Residents are also urged to check their properties for unattended containers of standing water, which may attract mosquitoes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the EEE virus is a rare cause of brain infections or encephalitis. There are very few human cases each year, but they can be fatal or leave victims with serious, lifelong complications, health officials said.

Communities across  the region are taking preventative measures to keep residents safe after the horse died in Methuen on Monday of last week and mosquitoes in Andover and Pelham tested positive for EEE.

Lawrence's risk for EEE has been elevated to "high," according to a press release from Mayor Daniel Rivera's office. Although the city is not cancelling public outdoor activities, officials have advised residents to limit their amount of time outdoors from dusk to dawn and avoid contact with mosquitoes.

Residents should also be mindful of sunset changes in the coming weeks.

Officials in Pelham are making similar recommendations following the news of the Methuen horse.

"The state is recommending we limit outside activities prior to dusk, to reduce the risk of exposure of EEE," read a tip411 alert statement from Pelham Police Department. "Additionally, in light of our most recent mosquito test batches indicating there was no EEE found in any of the mosquitoes tested, the state is not recommending that we take any additional action with respect to respraying our town parks and fields."

The police alert also offered Pelham residents prevention guidelines, including ways to make sure mosquito breeding areas are controlled by eliminating standing water from property, removing old tires, old containers or other spaces where mosquitoes might breed, keeping roof gutters clean and making sure pools and hot tubs are clean and/or covered when not in use.

Following the death of the horse from EEE last week, Methuen's risk for the virus was deemed "critical," the highest level.

As a result, all outdoor events and public school sports practices and games in Methuen will have a strict ending time of 7 p.m. until Sept. 30.

All outdoor events and public school sports practices and games on public property in Methuen will have a strict ending time of 6 p.m. from Oct. 1 through the first hard frost.

Methuen Public Schools will distribute a revised schedule of athletic, band and other outdoor events to families and students.

"We are taking all precautions against EEE," Methuen Mayor James Jajuga said. "It is not common for a community in Essex County to face this level of concern for the virus, and we hope all residents read and follow these vital safety guidelines."

Areas west of Route 93 in Methuen has undergone mosquito spraying.

Officials said the city will also formally request that the Mosquito Control and Wetlands Management District spray the entire city, including parks and fields.

Andover has set an end time to all outdoor events in town at 7:30 p.m. through Sept. 7. The effective time will roll back as the time of sunset changes in the coming weeks.

Andover's risk for EEE was elevated from "moderate" to "high" last week. Health Director Thomas Carbone said the town is working with the mosquito control district to identify where the next round of spraying should happen.

 

Twice this month, mosquitoes in Andover tested positive for EEE. The more recent pool of insects was found on Haggetts Pond Road near Gavin Circle, and on Chatham Road. That area was sprayed last week.

More information is available at www.mass.gov/service-details/west-nile-virus-wnv and at www.nemassmosquito.org.

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