The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) advise all Rhode Islanders that a pool of mosquitoes from a mosquito-trapping site in Westerly has tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). This is the first mosquito pool this summer to test positive for EEE. To date there have been no mosquito pools in Rhode Island that have tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV). In Massachusetts, there has been one reported human case of EEE and one reported case of WNV after multiple mosquito pools tested positive for EEE. In eastern Connecticut, there were also mosquito pools that tested positive for EEE.
“Both of our neighboring states have mosquito pools that tested positive for EEE, so we anticipated we would see a positive mosquito pool in Rhode Island as well,” said Director of Health David R. Gifford, MD, MPH. “This is a reminder to all Rhode Islanders about the proper precautions to avoid mosquito bites—use bug spray with DEET and minimize outside activities at dawn and dusk.”
The EEE-positive pool was collected from one of three traps set in Chapman Swamp in Westerly. “It is not surprising to find EEE in mosquitoes in Chapman Swamp at this time of year,” said DEM Mosquito Abatement Coordinator Dr. Alan Gettman. “It is noteworthy that traps set in eastern Connecticut have also had mosquito pools test positive for EEE. All other mosquito traps in Rhode Island remain negative for EEE this year. DEM will set extra traps in the Westerly area to continue to monitor the mosquito population.”
Protect yourself: · Use bug spray with DEET (N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide). Make sure that bug spray does not have more than 30% DEET. Do not use bug spray with DEET on infants. · At sunrise and sundown (when mosquitoes are most active), minimize outside activities. If you are outside, HEALTH strongly recommends wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants and using bug spray. · Put mosquito netting over playpens and baby carriages. · Put screens on windows and doors. Fix screens that have holes.
Get rid of mosquito breeding grounds: · Get rid of anything around your house and yard that collects water. One cup of water can produce thousands of mosquitoes! · Change the water in birdbaths at least two times a week. · Clean your gutters so that they can drain properly. · Remove any water from unused swimming pools or boats and cover them. · Help your neighbors, friends, and family do the same things.
Community Recommendations · Municipal and school officials in the town of Westerly should institute “smart scheduling” and should reschedule or relocate any outdoor activity originally planned for dawn, dusk, or evening.
Most people who are infected with WNV or EEE will not have any type of illness. People who do develop symptoms may have fever, headache and body aches or swollen lymph glands. Symptoms of severe infection include headache, high fever, stiff neck, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, or paralysis. The elderly, young children and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for serious illness with WNV and EEE. For more information, call your healthcare provider, visit HEALTH’s website at http://www.health.ri.gov/diseases/eee, call 222-5960/RI Relay 711, or visit DEM’s website at http://www.state.dem.ri.gov and click on Public Health Updates.