RI to conduct aerial mosquito spraying of four ‘critical risk’ areas at dusk Sunday


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) will be conducting aerial spraying at dusk Sunday.

It’s the latest step being taken by the state in an effort to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne illness.

DEM Director Janet Coit said they’ll be treating four locations that have been labeled “critical risk” for eastern equine encephalitis (EEE): Central Falls, Westerly, West Warwick, and northern Rhode Island bordering the Massachusetts towns of Uxbridge, Douglas, and Mendon.

“That spraying which some called ‘adulticiding,’ is aimed at the adult mosquitoes in the air in those critical risk areas,” Coit said

On Friday, the DEM conducted aerial “larviciding” near swampy areas of Central Falls, Westerly and West Warwick.

So far this year, EEE has been detected four times in Rhode Island—twice in Central Falls, twice in Westerly and one detection of West Nile virus in Tiverton.

A West Warwick resident also became the first person since 2010 to contract EEE in the state. The diagnosis came a week after a Fairhaven woman died after contracting EEE.

“Because we are in that critical risk here, in some parts of the state, we are moving into the next phase of our mosquito abatement plan,” R.I. Department of Health Deputy Director Ana Novais said. “Roughly one-third of people who get EEE end up passing away.”

Sunday’s spraying is dependent on the weather and Coit said the schedule could change if conditions aren’t right.

“We can only do this when the weather is correct. So we intend to do it on Sunday evening after dusk when the temperature is above 60-degrees and the wind is calm, If we don’t have those conditions we won’t go forward,” Coit said.

The product being sprayed poses no risk to humans and is being used in low concentrations, according to Coit. She said anyone who is concerned about being exposed to the pesticide should remain indoors during the treatment, though it is not necessary.

Fact Sheet: Signs & Symptoms of Mosquito-Borne Disease »

The threat of mosquito-borne illnesses typically lasts until the first hard frost in mid-October.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has been spraying for mosquitoes in communities deemed EEE risks.

The Department of Health also said the recommendation of “smart scheduling” of events will remain in place for the remainder of mosquito season.

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