EEE survivor in favor of aerial sprays
ROCHESTER, Mass. -- State Health Officials said they have detected the highest levels of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in mosquitoes in decades, and are now launching aerial spraying in 27 Southeastern Massachusetts towns Wednesday night.
"This is a major public health concern," said Governor Deval Patrick.
While critics have questioned the widespread use of the pesticide, health officials say the concentration of the spray is low.
For one Rochester man who was infected with eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), the warnings of infected mosquitoes are hitting close to home.
Four years ago, Derek Ashworth, 26, spent six days in a coma after being bitten by an EEE-infected mosquito.
“Being in a coma, having a seizure is probably the worst thing that has ever happened to me in my life,” Ashworth said.
Ashworth said he felt symptoms of EEE shortly after being bit by a mosquito during an evening football game.
“Heavy headaches, unable to eat, no energy and then inevitably I had the seizure and then a second seizure,” he said.
Ashworth spent a month in the hospital and in rehab.
“Basically had to take time, learn how to talk, learn how to eat, learn to how to do the simple things that I used to do so well,” Ashworth said.
Ashworth made an amazing recovery; more than 90 percent of people that contract EEE experience some form of long-term brain damage.
Between 2004 and 2006, three EEE cases were fatal.
This year, officials have detected the highest levels of EEE in mosquitoes in decades.
In response, officials are launching aerial sprays in 27 southeastern Massachusetts communities Wednesday.
“I’m very excited and happy that we are actually taking action now versus letting somebody get sick,” Ashworth said.
While critics have questioned the widespread use of the pesticide, officials said the concentration level is low. Ashworth believes the spraying is worth the potential risk.
“I don’t think the side effects of the chemicals are as bad as getting what I got,” Ashworth said.
Spraying of the pesticide will take place after dusk on August 4th in the following communities:
Residents are urged to take precautions for the spraying:
-- Keep windows closed and fans off. Shut off air conditioners unless they have a setting for re-circulating indoor air.
-- Keep pets, livestock and other domestic animals indoors during spraying to minimize their risk of exposure.
-- Wash any homegrown fruits or vegetables before eating. If skin or clothes or other items are exposed to the sprayed pesticide, wash with soap and warm water.
More information on EEE and the use of aerial spraying is available at www.mass.gov/dph.
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