Limit on Outdoor Evening Events Continues as Precaution Against Mosquito-Borne Illnesses

AMHERST, Mass. – In concert with the Town of Amherst, the University of Massachusetts Amherst is continuing to limit campus-sponsored nighttime outdoor events on playing fields and grassy areas as a precautionary measure against mosquito-borne illnesses such as Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE).

Amherst is considered a moderate-risk community for EEE by the state Department of Public Health (DPH).

Campus departments are scheduling events indoors or before dusk, according to Don Robinson, executive director of environmental health and safety at UMass Amherst. If Amherst is elevated to a high-risk category by DPH, additional restrictions will be put in place by both the town and the campus.

EEE, a rare viral infection that is dangerous and often fatal to humans, is spread through infected mosquito bites.

UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy approved the precautions, which were recommended by campus health and safety officials.

The dusk-to-dawn ban on nighttime outdoor activities on playing fields and grassy areas will follow DPH recommendations for scheduling times as days grow shorter through the fall months.

Some exceptions to the regulations may be allowed on a case-by-case basis, Robinson said.

Campus employees, visitors and students are being advised of the EEE risk and steps they can take to protect their health. Educational efforts with students and other members of the campus community will continue until health officials determine the EEE risk has subsided.

All members of the campus community are being urged to limit evening outdoor activities and to take precautions such as using insect repellent, wearing long sleeves and long pants, and avoiding areas where mosquitoes are prevalent. Insect repellent is available at University Health Services and the University Store.

On campus, the grounds staff is applying larvicide to areas of standing water to prevent mosquito breeding. Contractors working on campus are being advised of the DPH warnings and are being urged to take precautions to safeguard their workers.