Despite EEE risk, Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular will go on ‘as scheduled’

Jack O Lanterns_222266

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Thousands of people are expected to attend the annual Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo this season and ongoing concerns about eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) will not affect the festivities.

EEE has caused multiple deaths in New England this year, including one in West Warwick. To prevent the spread of the potentially deadly disease, health officials have recommended people avoid being outdoors between dusk and dawn, which are peak mosquito hours.

Since the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular is held at night, Eyewitness News asked the zoo if it was taking extra precautions.

“Providence is not an area labeled as critical risk. We will still be holding the event as scheduled. We are going by what the state says,” Zoo spokeswoman Diane Nahabedian said.

Although Nahabedian added, “Wildlife Trading, the company that runs our concessions, will be selling bug repellent wipes during the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular. The wipes will be offered at all points of sale. Although Providence has not be identified as a targeted area for spraying, we are offering bug repellent so guests, who would still like to take precautions, may do so.”

Fact Sheet: Mosquito-Borne Illness Signs & Prevention » | Special Presentation: EEE Concerns »

Rhode Island Department of Health spokesperson Joseph Wendelken said anyone planning to attend the event should use the same precautions the agency has been recommending.

“Mosquito season in Rhode Island lasts until our first hard frost, which is usually in the middle or the end of October,” he said. “If people are going to be outside for extended periods of time before then, it is important to wear long sleeves and long pants, and to use EPA-approved bug spray with DEET.”

The Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular runs Oct. 3 through Nov. 3.

Spraying was conducted in the following zones deemed critical risk for EEE, according to the Health Department:

  • Parts of Burrillville, North Smithfield and Woonsocket
  • Parts of Charlestown, Hopkinton and Westerly
  • All of West Warwick and parts of Coventry, Cranston, East Greenwich, Scituate, Warwick and West Greenwich
  • All of Central Falls, North Providence and Pawtucket
  • Parts of Providence, East Providence, Cumberland, Lincoln and Smithfield

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