PROVIDENCE — Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), the cause of one death in Fairhaven, MA this week, has been found in mosquitoes in Rhode Island, prompting the RI Department of Health to recommend outdoor activities scheduled for early morning or dusk hours be rescheduled to earlier in the afternoon or relocated indoors.
The virus has been discovered in mosquitoes trapped in Central Falls, according to RIDOH. People can get EEE virus or WNV when they are bitten by an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes are most active early in the morning and at dusk.
RIDOH recommends that smart scheduling stay in effect for the remainder of the mosquito season, which typically ends mid-October (after the first hard frost).
EEE is a rare, but serious disease. In some cases, it can lead to swelling of the brain (encephalitis). Cases of EEE that do not involve encephalitis can result in symptoms including chills, fever, and malaise. WNV is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the U.S. Most people with WNV do not have any symptoms. However, in some instances it can lead to conditions affecting the central nervous system.
There are other measures that all Rhode Islanders should take to protect themselves from mosquito bites, and to help minimize mosquito breeding.
- Put screens on windows and doors. Fix screens that are loose or have holes.
- At sunrise and sundown (when mosquitoes that carry EEE are most active), consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning. If you must be outside, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants and use bug spray.
- Use EPA-approved bug spray with one of the following active ingredients: DEET (20-30% strength); picaridin, IR3535; and oil of lemon eucalyptus or paramenthane. Always read the label and follow all directions and precautions.
- Do not use bug spray with DEET on infants under two months of age. Children should be careful not to rub their eyes after bug spray has been applied on their skin. Wash children’s hands with soap and water to remove any bug spray when they return indoors.
- Put mosquito netting over playpens and baby carriages.
Get rid of mosquito breeding grounds
- Get rid of anything around your house and yard that collects water. Just one cup of water can produce hundreds of mosquitoes; an unused tire containing water can produce thousands of mosquitoes.
- Clean your gutters and down spouts so that they can drain properly.
- Remove any water from unused swimming pools, wading pools, boats, planters, trash and recycling bins, tires, and anything else that collects water, and cover them.
- Remove or treat any shallow water that can accumulate on top of a pool cover. Larvicide treatments, such as Mosquito Dunks can be applied to kill immature mosquitoes. This environmentally-friendly product is available at many hardware and garden stores and on-line.
- Change the water in birdbaths at least two times a week and rinse out birdbaths once a week.
Visit http://www.health.ri.gov/mosquito for additional mosquito prevention tips, videos, and local data. RIDOH and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management also remind Rhode Islanders to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites when traveling to Zika-affected countries. Pregnant women and women who are considering becoming pregnant should not travel to countries with active transmission of Zika.