Sports rescheduled after positive EEE test in Warren


A week after turning up in Barrington, Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) has appeared in Warren. Scientists with the state found mosquitoes infected with the potentially deadly virus in a sample taken last Monday, Sept 10, from an area near Schoolhouse Road.

Now, Bristol Warren school officials are rescheduling evening sports events to help comply with state recommendations aimed at protecting residents during the most active mosquito hours, the early morning and dusk. But there are no plans by the state to spray insecticide from the area around where a sample taken last week tested positive for EEE.

"We're going to continue testing and wait for the first frost," said Gail Mastrati, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Management (DEM).

On Monday, Bristol Warren superintendent Melinda Thies reported that the district re-scheduled a soccer game originally planned for Tuesday evening; it was held Tuesday afternoon instead. In addition, another game scheduled for Thursday evening will be played at 3:30 that afternoon.

The positive EEE result was from a Culiseta species of mosquitoes that feeds almost exclusively on birds. The sample was collected  by Department of Environmental Management (DEM) collectors, and the mosquitoes were tested by the Rhode Island Separtment of Health. With the positive test, Warren joins Barrington and Tiverton in positive EEE tests this summer. Besides EEE, state officials also test for the West Nile Virus, and that has shown up in Westerly, North Providence and Charleston.

Warren DPW chief John Massed said Monday that his department won't take any extra eradication efforts in response to the positive test; the decision whether to spray pesticide was up to the state DEM and Department of Health.

"We put larvicide in all the catch basins, some of the smaller pools," he said. "The rest is up to them."

DEM mosquito abatement coordinator Alan Gettman, Ph.D., said mosquitos will likely remain a problem until the weather cools and the region gets a frost. Until then, residents should take care to protect themselves, particularly when mosquito-biting activity is high. Biting activity depends on several conditions, though it is generally is greatest from dusk to dawn. During the day it decreases in sunny areas at lower temperatures and increases in shady areas at higher temperatures. Biting activity also generally increases with high humidity and with low wind. This year, five pools of mosquitoes have tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis and four pools have tested positive for West Nile Virus.

Personal protection is the first line of defense against mosquitoes that can carry diseases such as West Nile Virus and EEE and is by far the most effective way of avoiding infection, Ms. Mastrati said. People should routinely use mosquito repellent and cover up when mosquito-biting activity is greatest. They should place mosquito netting over playpens and carriages outside, and be sure that screens are in good repair. Mosquito repellent should contain no more than 30 percent DEET, and it should not be used on infants.

Because horses are susceptible to West Nile Virus and EEE, Rhode Island horse owners should consult with their veterinarians to determine if their horses are properly vaccinated against both diseases and take measures to control and prevent mosquito exposure. Those controls should include removing or covering all areas where standing water can collect; applying mosquito larvicide in appropriate locations; and avoiding turning animals outside at dawn, dusk and during the night when mosquitoes are most active. Horse owners should insect-proof facilities where possible; use approved repellants frequently; monitor animals for symptoms of fever, in-coordination, stumbling and neurological signs; and report all suspicious cases to a veterinarian immediately.




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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.