Test results from one mosquito pool, or sample, from a trap set in central Barrington has been confirmed positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), the Department of Environmental Management announced this afternoon.
Central Barrington was described by Gail Mastrati, a DEM spokesperson, as the area that includes the Town Hall and the central business area.
It is the fourth time this year that EEE has been positively identified in Rhode Island. The positive EEE result was from a Culiseta species that feeds almost exclusively on birds, Mastrati said.
The positive EEE finding came from mosquitoes trapped by DEM staff on Sept. 5 and tested at the RI Department of Health (HEALTH) laboratory. The results were confirmed today, Mastrati said.
Alan Gettman, DEM's mosquito abatement coordinator, said in a press release that the positive results were not unexpected and confirm that there are infected mosquitoes in the environment. Therefore, all Rhode Islanders should take extra care to protect themselves, particularly when mosquito-biting activity is high.
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.
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.
This year, to date in Rhode Island, four pools of mosquitoes have tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis and three pools have tested positive for West Nile Virus.
Mosquitoes in Rhode Island are trapped every week statewide by DEM staff and tested at the RI Department of Health laboratory. DEM will normally report mosquito test results once a week on a routine basis, with additional reports as necessary. Routine test results from the remaining 150 pools of mosquitoes trapped on Sept. 5 will be included in next week's announcement.
For online information about mosquito-borne diseases, go to DEM's website, www. dem.ri.gov, and click on “Public Health Updates,” or go to the HEALTH website, www.health.ri.gov, and click on “E” (Eastern Equine Encephalitis) or “W” (West Nile Virus) under “Health Topics.”