PROVIDENCE — Aerial pesticide EEE mosquito spraying reduced the risk of new human cases of the virus, but a new round is scheduled following new mosquito populations carrying the virus, the RI Department of Health and Department of Environmental Management report.
Both of the two latest people diagnosed with EEE, a child under 10 from Coventry, and a person in their 50s from Charlestown, have been discharged from the hospital and are recovering, according to the health department. Officials believe they contracted EEE in late August.
The first person in the state diagnosed with EEE, a person in their 50s from West Warwick, died from the disease Sept. 9.
All three people contracted the illness before areas of critical risk for EEE were aerially sprayed with pesticide between Sept. 8 and Sept. 10. However, EEE has been found in tested mosquito pool in western Coventry this week, indicating it’s still a concern, according to RIDOH.
EEE has been detected in seven mosquito pools to date: two from Central Falls, three from Westerly, one from Block Island, and the one from western Coventry. Additionally, one horse from Westerly has tested positive for EEE and RIDOH and DEM have previously announced that three deer have tested positive for EEE (one in Coventry, one in Richmond, and one in Exeter). EEE was also confirmed in a deer from Exeter this week, RIDOH reports.
Deer, like horses, cannot transmit EEE to humans, but they are a sign that infected mosquitoes are present in the area and people need to continue to take precautions, according to the RIDOH.
“This has been a year with significantly elevated EEE activity, and mosquitoes will remain a threat in Rhode Island until our first hard frost, which is still several weeks out,” said RIDOH’s Deputy Director Ana Novais. “Personal mosquito-prevention measures remain everyone’s first defense against EEE. If possible, people should limit their time outdoors at sunrise and sunset. If you are going to be out, long sleeves and pants are very important, as is bug spray.”
The state has announced it’s taking its own continuing precautions to limit EEE risk with a second round of aerial spraying.
Weather permitting, state officials estimate the next round of spraying could occur at night on Monday, Sept. 23 above the West Warwick area and a southwest section Rhode Island.
The area surrounding West Warwick includes all West Warwick and parts of Cranston, Warwick, East Greenwich, West Greenwich, Coventry, and Scituate. Some of this area was previously sprayed on September 9, but officials have expanded this zone westward to Route 102 in Coventry and both westward and southward in West Greenwich.
The southwest area to be sprayed includes much of Westerly and parts of Hopkinton and Charlestown that were already sprayed on Sept. 10. This expanded area of critical risk now also encompasses new swaths of Hopkinton, Richmond, and Charlestown as well as the southwestern section of South Kingstown.
Aerial spraying depends on calm conditions and temperatures above 58 degrees.
“Spraying effectively reduces the risk of mosquito-borne disease but if does not eliminate the risk completely,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. “Personal protection always is essential to further minimize the risk, and we hope that Rhode Island’s #FightTheBite campaign helps raise public awareness about how important it is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.”
Aerial spaying details
- Spraying will not occur over fish hatcheries, certified organic farms, surface drinking water supplies, or other open water bodies and coastal areas.
- The state will use the same pesticide, Anvil 10+10, that it used in its previous adulticiding operations September 8-10. It will be applied at the same low concentration by the same company as the last time.
- In its first round of spraying, the state treated 115,179 total acres. Approximately 6/10 of an ounce, aerosolized, was used to treat each acre (slightly less than four teaspoons per acre).
- The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has used this same pesticide when spraying this year. No adverse health risks are expected with this product’s use for mosquito control. However, it is generally good for people to limit their exposure to pesticides.
- While spraying is occurring, it is best to err on the side of caution and limit time outdoors and keep windows closed. DEM and RIDOH will work with the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency to urge the 12 affected communities to activate “code red” alerts to update residents with this information, and additional information about spraying.
- Aerial spraying is only one tool used to combat risk from mosquito-borne disease. The foundation of all risk reduction remains personal protection (mosquito repellent, long sleeves and pants, avoiding outdoor activities between dusk and dawn, repairing window and door screens, and dumping standing water).
- If possible, people should limit their time outdoors at sunrise and sunset. If they are going to be out, people should wear long sleeves and pants and use bug spray. Aerial spraying effectively reduces the risk of mosquito-borne disease but if does not eliminate the risk completely.
- Fewer mosquitoes are active as evening temperatures get cooler, but those mosquitoes that are active are more likely to be infected with EEE.
- The risk from mosquito-borne disease will continue until the first hard frost.