AMHERST, Mass. – In concert with the Town of Amherst, officials at the University of Massachusetts Amherst are limiting campus-sponsored nighttime outdoor events on playing fields and grassy areas as of July 15 as a precautionary measure against mosquito-borne illnesses such as Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE).
Since Amherst is considered a moderate-risk community for EEE by the state Department of Public Health (DPH), campus departments are already 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 summer and fall months.
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 are being advised of the DPH warnings and are being urged to take precautions to safeguard their workers.