Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Campus suspends nighttime activities due to EEE threat

Flickr/James Jordan

Nighttime outdoor activities have been cancelled at the University of Massachusetts until further notice as a precautionary measure against Eastern Equine Encephalitis, a virus carried by mosquitos that can be deadly to humans

The new restrictions – which will last until “the first hard frost,” according to multiple sources – will prevent campus organizations from outdoor events from 6:30 p.m. to 6 a.m., including those scheduled for marching band and sports teams.

“This is a precautionary measure that has been taken by the town of Amherst and other nearby towns,” University spokesman Ed Blaguszewski said.

Amherst is considered to be a high risk for EEE, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Cancelled events can be rescheduled for times earlier in the day, Blaguszewski said.

Students were emailed about the cancellations yesterday afternoon.

“While this step may be an inconvenience for some groups or departments, it is important that we safeguard the health of our community,” said Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy in his email to campus.

The measures were approved by Subbaswamy yesterday after campus and state health officials recommended it. Many experts were involved in the decision, including the state department of public health, University Health Services and Environmental Health and Safety, Blaguszewski said.

Three people in Massachusetts have been diagnosed with EEE so far this year, according to the state department of public health.

There have also been 13 cases of people being infected with West Nile virus in Massachusetts, another mosquito borne illness and disease that can be deadly to humans. West Nile is widely considered to be less dangerous than EEE.

“From what we hear from public health officials, EEE is the more serious concern,” Blaguszewski said.

Mosquitos carrying EEE are most often found near freshwater, hardwood swamps, according to the state department of public health

The state recommends people who live in high-risk areas avoid being outside between dusk and dawn, wear bug spray with DEET and wear protective clothing when outside.

In addition, they recommend homeowners repair screens in doors and windows, remove stagnant water and clean up any mosquito breeding sites.

Symptoms for EEE start to appear three to 10 days after a person is bitten and include neck stiffness, a headache and lack of energy. In the second stage, the brain swells, a symptom that can cause death or permanent damage, according to the state department public health fact sheet.

The disease is classified as “very rare” by the Department of Public Health. Since the virus was first found in Massachusetts in 1938, fewer than 100 people have contracted the disease.

At UMass, a larvacide, similar to a pesticide, will be applied to areas of campus where there is stagnant water to prevent mosquitos from breeding, according to a University press release.

Contractors on campus have been informed of the warning so they can take appropriate precautions to ensure the safety of their workers, according to the release.

Katie Landeck can be reached at [email protected].


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