RI to conduct aerial spraying amid high risk of mosquito-borne viruses


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — For the first time since 1996, Rhode Island will be conducting aerial spraying in an effort to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses.

The R.I. Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announced Friday that the state will begin spraying at dusk on Sunday.

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.

So far this year, EEE has been detected four times in Rhode Island—twice in Central Falls and 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.

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

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

Coit said the ability to spray effectively depends on the weather, and with Hurricane Dorian making its way north, she acknowledged the spraying schedule may change.

Where the state will conduct aerial spraying on Sunday. (Courtesy of RI DEM)

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.

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

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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