BURRILLVILLE – The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and the Department of Health have announced that northern Rhode Island communities bordering the Massachusetts towns of Uxbridge, Douglas, and Mendon will receive aerial mosquito treatments starting at dusk on Sunday, Sept. 8, weather permitting, with the possibility of a second night of spraying if needed.
All spraying will occur in the evening and overnight hours.
According to a release from DEM sent out late Friday afternoon, spraying generally occurs in four-mile radiuses around positive samples or cases. Because the aim of spraying is to protect humans from Eastern Equine Encephalitis infection, some areas will be excluded, including open bodies of water, including drinking water reservoirs, certain coastal areas, and natural areas that are not densely populated. Organic farms will also be excluded.
EEE has recently been confirmed in three horses in the southern Massachusetts communities.
EEE is a rare but serious and potentially fatal disease that can affect people of all ages. RIDOH confirmed the state’s first human case of EEE – in a person over the age of 50 from West Warwick – on August 30. Two mosquito detections of EEE have occurred in Central Falls and two have occurred in Westerly. The state’s transmission in a horse, announced August 29 by DEM, also originated in Westerly.
The release noted that the ability to spray effectively depends on the weather. With the remnants of Hurricane Dorian tracking northward, the schedule may change. The forecast was predicting more rain on Friday, Sept. 6 and windy conditions. Calmer conditions are needed to conduct aerial spraying.
The aerial larviciding scheduled for Sunday is expected to reduce risk for the disease, as well as West Nile, and is only expected to affect the larvae of mosquitoes, black flies and fungus gnats. Toxins are reportedly not harmful to humans or other animals and will not affect other types of insects including honey bees.
However, if people want to limit their exposure to this pesticide, they can avoid being outdoors while spraying is occurring and can keep their windows closed. More information health and spraying is available online.
On Monday of last week, RIDOH recommended to schools and municipal leaders that games, practices, and other outdoor activities scheduled to occur during early morning or dusk hours be rescheduled to earlier in the afternoon or relocated to an indoor venue.
The news follows Thursday’s announcement that DEM added 10 new mosquito traps in five new communities this week, addressing what authorities say is a higher than average risk for diseases carried by the insects, including EEE and West Nile virus.
New traps were set this week in West Warwick, West Greenwich, Burrillville, North Smithfield and Cumberland bringing the total number of communities with traps in the state to 23.
DEM noted that the northern towns border Massachusetts and Connecticut communities that public health officials have identified as areas of high risk.
Authorities also announced that the state will conduct an aerial larviciding application in three other locations, including Chapman Swamp in Westerly; the South Branch area of the Pawtuxet River in West Warwick; and the Valley Marsh area surrounded by Lincoln, Cumberland, and Central Falls.