All organized outdoor activity has been banned during the evenings and overnight in Hamilton and Wenham because of concern about Eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile Virus in mosquitoes.
The Hamilton Board of Health made the decision in a vote on Monday night and the Wenham Board of Health followed with a similar decision, according to a tape of the meeting on HWCam.
The vote was prompted after the state Department of Public Health declared the threat level in Hamilton as “critical,” the highest of five levels when describing the concern about public health from mosquitoes. The threat level went to critical after a horse on a farm on Milk Street in Essex tested positive for EEE over the weekend. The “critical” level extends to Hamilton because it borders Essex and has similar vegetation, Hamilton Health Agent Leslie Whelan said.
The activity ban extends from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. for all organized outdoor activities on both public and private property in Hamilton. In Wenham, the Board of Health said the ban is for all organized outdoor public activity.
Lindle Willnow, chairman of the Hamilton Board of Health, said the ban will affect “several hundred children” including soccer, football, field hockey and golf.
“It is a hardship on youth sports,” he said.
The ban will be in place until the threat level is lowered or there is frost where the temperature drops to 28 degree or lower for several hours or longer. Later, Town Manager Michael Lombardo told Selectmen that frost is “very likely” in Hamilton by Oct. 15-17 in Hamilton, based on past weather data.
Willnow said the board would distribute information about the outdoor activity ban via the town’s Connect-CTY telephone and e-mail system, post a notice on the town website and distribute notices to the Hamilton-Wenham Chronicle, Hamilton-Wenham Patch and Salem News plus notify Pingree School and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.