Board of Health hears of mosquito control program

The Revere Board of Health held its regular monthly public meeting on May 23. Chair Dr. Drew Bunker and board member Viviana Catano were on hand for the meeting, as were Lauren Buck, the Director of Public Health; Michael Wells, the Health Agent/Director of Inspectional Services; and Paula Sepulveda, the Board of Health Clerk.

Wells presented an update regarding the condemnation proceedings for the property at 85 Jones Road. Wells said that “after much interaction with the residents and family,” it was agreed that the property will be sold, bringing a conclusion to the condemnation action.”

Buck presented the monthly communicable disease report, which covered two months. She highlighted that there were three confirmed and 32 suspected Hepatitis B infections, which are higher than usual, but she noted that the higher-than-usual number probably is attributable to the retesting of persons with previously confirmed cases. She noted that there were 59 COVID cases and 115 for the flu, but those numbers only reflect reported cases, which means that the numbers most likely were understated. Buck also made note of the new human case of bird flu that recently was identified in Michigan in a dairy worker.

Buck highlighted that drowning deaths are on the increase, with 4500 drownings in the U.S annually and provided the alarming statistic that drowning is the number one cause of death for children ages 1-4 in the United States. (A front page story in the Globe this past Monday reported that a four year-old child had drowned over the weekend in a pond in Falmoiuth.)

Buck also noted that opioid-related deaths decreased in Mass. in 2023, the first decrease in many years, with the use of naloxone being seen as a reason for the decline. Naloxone boxes will be coming to Revere shortly in areas of the city where overdose deaths are the most frequent.

Wells presented the monthly report from the ISD. He said that 171 certificates of fitness were issued in the past month, a higher than typical number attributable to the new residential building at Suffolk Downs. In the food division, ISD conducted 31 routine inspections, seven reinspections, five complaint inspections, and one pre-opening inspection.

The department issued 53 citations for accumulation of litter, trash, and debris, 305 for improper placement of garbage and trash, two for multiple unregistered vehicles on the property, and 77 for unclean/unsanitary land, mostly for overgrowth of weeds and grass.

“Residents have to ensure that they keep their grass and overgrowth low, which can harbor rodents and mosquitoes if left unchecked,” said Wells.

Bonny Carroll, the Director of the 6-City Tobacco Initiative, informed the board that Parkway Liquors, 190 Revere Beach Parkway, had committed a violation of the tobacco regulations by selling a tobacco product to a minor who had been sent into the store as part of 6-City’s regular compliance program.

The first offense had occurred in January, 2023, with the second offense occurring this past March, which was within the 36 months of the first offense, thus qualifying it as a second offense. Carroll said that a $2000 fine was imposed and there will be a seven-day suspension of the sale of tobacco starting June 10.

The main part of the meeting was taken up by a presentation from Barry Noone, the District Director of the Northeast Massachusetts Mosquito Control & Wetlands Management District, and entomologist Kimberly Foss.

Foss said that the purpose of the mosquito control program is to “manage mosquitoes using a combination of methods while minimizing risk to people and the environment.” She noted that the program provides education to residents regarding the proper control around their homes, wearing protective clothing, and use of insect repellants. Noone mentioned that the program is available to private homeowners who can apply to the organization for site inspections and for the application of larvicides.

Foss said that there are 54 species of mosquitoes in Massachusetts, some of which can transmit Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile Virus to humans from birds. Foss described the four kinds of traps that the program uses to collect mosquitoes, which then are frozen for testing. She described the mosquito habitat mitigation measures that the program undertakes, such as ditch maintenance, mowing phragmites, and removing abandoned tires (in which mosquitoes can breed).

Noone said that larvicide is the primary means by which mosquitoes are controlled in fresh and saltwater wetlands and floodplains, while Foss described the types of larvicides that are used. Noone said that when necessary, adulticiding and barrier products are used in areas where large mosquito populations have bred, such as fields, parks, and school properties. He emphasized that when barrier applications are applied to playing fields at night, they are safe the next day for children.

In addition, Revere residents may request mosquito control adulticiding for their properties. Homeowners also may request that  their property be excluded from a mosquito control program. In response to a question from Catano, Foss discussed the steps that homeowners can take to ensure that their rain barrels and self-watering irrigation systems do not become breeding sources for mosquitoes.

In response to questions from Buck, Foss noted that the use of goats and imported dragon flies (which compete with native dragonflies) are not good options for mosquito control.

The board also approved an application for chicken-keeping from Carmela and Luigi Dichiara, 128 Malden St., and granted licenses for a Temporary Body Art Establishment by Let Er Rip, LLC, & Boston Harley-Davidson and a Temporary Body Art Individual License for David Martinelli during the summer months.

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