WEST WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — With areas of Rhode Island still at critical risk for EEE (Eastern Equine Encephalitis), parts of 12 communities are expected to be treated with aerial spraying this week.
While the Rhode Island Department of Health initially said spraying could start as early as Monday, spokesman Mike Healey told Eyewitness News it may not be until Wednesday. He said the company conducting the spraying is set to spray in Massachusetts first and then Rhode Island. If it rains Monday night, Healey said the spraying in Massachusetts would take place Tuesday and then in Rhode Island Wednesday.
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The Health Department said it used several factors to determine the treatment areas including information about new human or animal cases of EEE, places where EEE positive samples of mosquitoes have been identified and information about the habitats in which mosquitoes most readily breed.
The two areas to be sprayed include one surrounding West Warwick and one in the southwest part of Rhode Island. All four of the areas that were already sprayed September 8-10 are still considered “critical risk” areas for the virus, according to the Department of Health.
Since that spraying occurred, the Department of Health reported two additional human cases of EEE, including an adult from Charlestown and a 6-year-old Coventry girl. Health officials said neither of those cases were deadly and the people are recovering.
Earlier in September, the state’s first case of EEE since 2010 was reported. The department of health says the person, in their 50s and from West Warwick, passed away.
The death was the state’s first since 2007.
State health and environmental leaders say while aerial spraying is an important step in combating EEE, prevention starts with you on the ground.
“We’re really encouraging people to – if at all possible – to be indoors at sunrise and sunset because those are the times when we’re seeing the most mosquito activity. If people do have to be outside during those times, wearing long pants and long sleeves, it’s very important to do that,” RIDOH spokesperson Joseph Wendelken said. “Bug spray is very important; people can keep a lookout for DEET on the label. DEET is an important active ingredient.”
Aerial spraying depends on calm conditions and temperatures above 58 degrees. Officials say while the spraying is safe, it’s best to be inside with windows closed while spraying occurs.