In the above video, Eyewitness News spoke with experts about this year’s spike in mosquito-borne illness detection including how it started, what may have caused it and what health officials are doing about it.

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — This year’s mosquito season started out quietly, but quickly took a turn for the worse in Southern New England.

Since July 1, the risk level for eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) has been raised in dozens of communities after the mosquito-borne illness was repeatedly detected across the region.

So far this year, two people have died after contracting EEE – a West Warwick resident and a Fairhaven woman.

Health officials in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island have conducted targeted aerial spraying and larviciding in an effort to control the mosquito population.

The best way to avoid contracting a mosquito-borne illness is to take steps to prevent mosquito bites.

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

Health officials are also encouraging the “smart scheduling” of events in an effort to minimize the risk of mosquito bites.

Many outdoor activities – including sports practices and games – have been rescheduled for earlier in the day or relocated indoors throughout affected communities.

The threat of mosquito-borne illness usually continues until the first hard frost, which usually occurs in mid-October.

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.