Mosquito samples collected in Tiverton, Pawtucket and Westerly on June 26 have tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus (EEE), the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced . These are the first findings of EEE in Rhode Island this year. All the positive mosquito pools are species that bite birds and mammals (including humans).
There are no confirmed human cases of EEE in Rhode Island, but because summer and fall are peak seasons for mosquito-borne disease transmission to people, all should be aware of the symptoms of EEE.
Severe cases of EEE (involving encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain) begin with the sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills, and vomiting. If you think you or a family member may have EEE, it is important to consult your healthcare provider for proper diagnosis.
In addition to EEE, Rhode Island tests mosquitos for West Nile Virus (WNV). To date, there have been no confirmed local findings of WNV in a mosquito sample.
The public is reminded to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds and avoid bites, where possible. The following precautions are advised:
• Remove anything around your house and yard that collects water; just one cup of water can produce hundreds of mosquitoes.
• Clean gutters and downspouts to ensure proper drainage, and repair holes in window screens.
• 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.
• Change birdbath water at least two times a week.
• Use EPA-approved bug spray with one of the following active ingredients: DEET (20-30% strength), picaridin, IR3535, and oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol. Do not use bug spray on infants under age 1.
• Minimize outdoor activity at dawn and at dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
• Put insect netting over strollers and playpens.
• Wear long sleeves and long pants whenever possible, particularly if you are outdoors during dawn and dusk.
Horses are particularly susceptible to WNV and EEE. Horse owners are advised to vaccinate their animals early in the season and to remove standing water.