PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — With the risk for mosquito-borne illnesses abnormally high in southeastern New England this year, the Rhode Island Department of Health is advising everyone to keep timing in mind when scheduling outdoor events and activities.
Health officials are urging schools and municipal leaders to ensure all outdoor activities, including practices for sports teams, are rescheduled to earlier in the afternoon or relocated indoors.
“The ‘smart scheduling’ of events is intended to help minimize the risk of mosquito bites for players, coaches and spectators,” the health department said in a statement.
The health department recommends the “smart scheduling” of outdoor events take place until mosquito season is over, which typically ends in mid-October (after the hard first frost).
So far this year, there have been two findings of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in Rhode Island. Both mosquito pools that tested positive for EEE were found in Central Falls earlier this month.
At this time, there have been no findings of West Nile Virus this year in Rhode Island.
There have been several mosquito pools that have tested positive for both EEE and West Nile Virus across Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Department of Health has announced four human cases of EEE so far this year, including one death.
The health department said there have also been several mosquito pools that have tested positive for both EEE and West Nile Virus in Connecticut.
The human case of EEE in Rhode Island occurred back in 2010. While the health department recently told Eyewitness News that human cases of EEE in Rhode Island are rare, they said anyone who is concerned they may have contracted a mosquito-borne illness should contact their primary care doctor.
Here are some recommendations on how to protect yourself from mosquito bites:
- Dump out any standing water near your home.
- Use screens on windows or air conditioning to keep them outside.
- Use mosquito repellent that contains DEET.
- Avoid being outside during peak biting hours – usually between dusk and dawn.
- Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and high socks if you’re outside during peak biting hours.