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EEE Closes All Westborough Fields, Parks At Sunset

The state Department of Public Health elevated the town's threat level to high on Thursday.

Westborough officials today closed all recreation fields, all school fields and all town parks at sunset until further notice because Thursday, Director of Public Health Paul McNulty said.

The news means that some scheduled youth and school sports practices and games will be adjusted to end before sunset, Recreation Director Frank DeSiata and School Superintendent Marianne O'Connor said.

McNulty said Westborough health officials took today's action in cooperation with the recreation and school departments, as well as Town Manager Jim Malloy.

DeSiata said recreation and school officials will post the news on signs at their fields.

"Just like we tell people you should wear seat belts, if you don't wear your seatbelt, it's your risk," McNulty said.

Thursday, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health elevated Westborough's Eastern Equine Encephalitis threat level to high, because human-biting, EEE-postive mosquitoes have been found here.

"I don't believe it's ever been this bad this early. I've been here since 1980," McNulty said.

DeSiata said Westborough officials are "fortunate" because only youth football is using the recreation fields at night right now.

He said he notified youth football officials, and "they said they'll end their practices appropriately."

Other sports using the fields during the restrictions have been asked to "come up with a game plan" and notify parents, players and coaches to ensure that "all the kids are safe," DeSiata said.

"It's not adversarial one bit," he said.

"It's 'Too bad this had to happen.' EEE this early is really unusual."

O'Connor said school officials have notified anyone using the fields of the situation.

"We take it very seriously," she said.

"Until further notice, we're going to have to adjust our schedule."

McNulty said officials will continue evaluating the conditions, "but, the trend is not good."

"We're getting more and more positive samples. And we still have at least two or three weeks of warm days and nights to go through," he said.

"The risk will pretty much be zero after the first killing frost. And that's a way's away. That's in October."

In addition, "if you're out in the woods, in a wooded area, on an overcast, warm day, you're probably going to get bitten by mosquitoes," he said.

"You should take precautions. If you have to be out in that environment, you should wear insect repellant, long-sleeved shirts, long pants with socks," McNulty said.

"You want to try to avoid mosquitoes, and mosquito bites."

Mosquito spraying was planned for today and Thursday, weather permitting, the Central Mass. Mosquito Control Project said on its website.

The mosquito project plans more spraying for Monday night, school officials said on their website.

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