MIDDLETON (CBS) – The town of Middleton isn’t taking any chances. Even though no mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile or eastern equine encephalitis viruses, the health board ordered ball-fields closed so they can be sprayed.
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The head of the local Board of Health says it’s an abundance of caution because the viruses have turned up in neighboring communities. “We don’t know where it’s going to pop up, in Middleton next week, or an adjacent community,” said Middleton public health director Derek Fullerton.
The Masconomet cheerleading squad took to the field in Topsfield for practice, a community that was sprayed earlier in the week. Since their August camp started, they’ve had to practice in several locations to avoid the fields in Middleton. “It’s a little frustrating because we want them to get into the season and be excited about cheering, and not worry about other aspects of it,” said coach Nicole Frampton.
Spraying the cheerleaders with insect repellent at the start of practice has become a part of the routine. Practices are also ending a half hour earlier at 7:00 p.m. “I’m definitely nervous as a mom and a coach,” said Cassandra McMahon. “The kids still have to play a little bit, but we’re ending early.”
While West Nile has previously been found in mosquitoes on the North Shore, it’s the first time EEE has turned up heightening the concern. Middleton officials hope to have the ball-fields re-opened this week, but in the meantime soccer tryouts have been postponed and other organized sports practices have had to be rescheduled to accommodate the spraying.