NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) ─ The R.I. Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announced Wednesday that, due to the seasonally low temperatures and extreme drought conditions, the state will stop collecting mosquito samples at the end of this week.
The DEM reported that 62 of the 72 samples collected between Sept. 21-30 tested negative for both Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile Virus. Mosquito samples collected on Oct. 6 are still pending.
The only mosquito sample to test positive for EEE in Rhode Island this year was collected in Chapman Swamp in Westerly. The DEM also said a white-tailed deer in North Kingstown tested positive for the virus in late August.
There were no findings of West Nile Virus in Rhode Island this year.
It was a much different story in Massachusetts, however.
This year, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported five human cases of EEE and eight human cases of West Nile Virus.
In Connecticut, there were no human cases of EEE or West Nile Virus this year. There were two mosquito samples that tested positive for EEE and another 143 samples tested positive for West Nile Virus.
The DEM offered the following tips on how to protect yourself and others from mosquito-borne illness:
- 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 downspouts 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.
Best practices for horse owners
Horses are particularly susceptible to West Nile Virus and EEE. Horse owners are advised to vaccinate their animals early in the season and practice the following:
- Remove or cover areas where standing water can collect.
- Avoid putting animals outside at dawn, dusk, or during the night when mosquitoes are most active.
- Insect-proof facilities where possible and use approved repellents frequently.
- Monitor animals for symptoms of fever and/or neurological signs (such as stumbling, moodiness, loss of appetite) and report all suspicious cases to a veterinarian immediately. If you are unsure if your horse is properly vaccinated, you should consult with your veterinarian.
If you are unsure if your horse is appropriately vaccinated, consult with your veterinarian.
Last year’s mosquito season began quietly but quickly erupted in Southern New England, raising EEE risk levels significantly across both Rhode Island and Massachusetts. At least one person died from EEE in Rhode Island and six people died in Massachusetts.