GLOCESTER, R.I. (WPRI) — Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) has been detected in Rhode Island for the first time this year, the R.I. Department of Environmental Management (DEM) said Tuesday.
A sample of mosquitoes collected on Aug. 21 in Glocester tested positive for the virus, according to the DEM.
In addition, a fourth sample of mosquitoes tested positive for West Nile virus, this time from Barrington. The first three detections this summer were in Westerly.
No human cases of either illness have been reported this year.
The DEM said it’s “extremely rare” for humans to show symptoms of EEE, and many people who are infected don’t know they have it. However, there is a small chance those symptoms can become serious and cause lasting nerve damage, among other long-term complications.
West Nile virus is more common than EEE, but so far this year, only one human case has been confirmed in Southern New England out of Connecticut.
Rhode Islanders should take the following steps to prevent mosquito bites:
- Put screens on windows and doors
- Avoid being outside during sunrise and sunset
- Use EPA-approved bug spray
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
- Remove items that collect water from around your house
- Clean gutters and downspouts for proper drainage
- Remove unused water from pools, trash bins, or anything that collects water