The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) is advising school and municipal officials to institute “smart scheduling” of outdoor activities during the summer and fall months to avoid mosquito bites and tick bites. Any outdoor activity planned for dawn, dusk or evening should be relocated or rescheduled.
“HEALTH sent an advisory to all schools and municipalities earlier this month regarding smart scheduling,” said Interim Director of Health Michael Fine, MD. “Ticks and mosquitoes can carry serious diseases like West Nile Virus (WNV), Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), or Lyme Disease. These diseases can cause serious illness and even death. It has been a wet spring, so HEALTH anticipates that the mosquito population will increase this summer and fall.”
All Rhode Islanders should take the proper precautions to avoid mosquito and tick bites. Protect yourself from mosquito bites · Use bug spray with DEET (N, Ni-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 outdoor activities. If you must be 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. Protect yourself from tick bites · Use bug spray with DEET. · Wear light-colored clothing. Tuck pants into socks so that ticks do not crawl under clothing. · Check yourself and your family daily for ticks, especially if you spend a lot of time outside in grassy or wooded areas. Don’t forget to check your pets too and use recommended tick prevention treatments. Eliminate mosquito and tick breeding grounds · Get rid of items around your yard that collect 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 they can drain properly. · Remove water from unused swimming pools or boats and cover them. · Keep brush and leaves cleared from your yard and keep lawns mowed. · Help your neighbors, friends, and family do the same things.
Most people who are infected with WNV after a mosquito bite 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 of WNV or EEE (also from mosquito bites) 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. Symptoms of Lyme Disease can include a “bullseye” rash around the tick bite, joint swelling or pain, stiff neck, numbness in the face, or forgetfulness. Anyone who has these symptoms after a mosquito or tick bite should contact their healthcare provider. For weekly mosquito test results, visit http://www.health.ri.gov/data/westnilevirus/index.php or http://www.health.ri.gov/data/eee/index.php