State Plans More EEE Spraying, Including Part of EG

by | Sep 19, 2019

Above: The areas to be sprayed Monday (9/23/19) evening, weather permitting.

The state Dept. of Environmental Management announced Thursday it would conduct a second round of aerial spraying to reduce the risk of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), a deadly mosquito-borne infection with the first cases in humans in nine years. The spray area includes a north-western part of East Greenwich.

Three people have been diagnosed with EEE so far this year, including a person from West Warwick who died from the infection last week. A young girl from Coventry and a person in their 50s from Charlestown were the other two people who had been diagnosed. Both were hospitalized but are now at home recovering.

In addition, a horse from Westerly and deer in Westerly, Richmond and Coventry have all tested positive for EEE. 

Weather permitting, state officials are estimating that the next round of spraying could occur on Monday, Sept. 23, after dark.

The decision to spray in certain areas is based on several factors, DEM said, including the location of new cases of EEE, positive mosquito samples, and information about the areas where mosquitoes most readily breed.

The two areas to be sprayed include one surrounding West Warwick and one in the southwest part of Rhode Island. A map of the two areas to be sprayed is attached. All four of the areas that already were sprayed September 8-10, however, are considered “critical risk” areas for EEE. The area surrounding West Warwick includes all West Warwick and parts of Cranston, Warwick, East Greenwich, West Greenwich, Coventry, and Scituate. Some of this area was previously sprayed on September 9, but officials have expanded this zone westward to Route 102 in Coventry and both westward and southward in West Greenwich. 

According to DEM, while spraying is occurring, it is best to err on the side of caution and limit time outdoors and keep your windows closed. The product being sprayed is being used at very low concentrations. No adverse health risks are expected with its use for mosquito control. However, it is generally good for people to limit their exposure to pesticides.

For more about the effects of the spraying, click here.

East Greenwich School District has already taken measures to decrease the risk of infection, according to Supt. Victor Mercurio. 

He told the School Committee Tuesday that Athletic Director Chris Cobain had shifted to “smart scheduling,” pushing games and practices earlier, since dusk and early evening are the most dangerous times for mosquito bites. Right now, athletes are off the field by 6:15 p.m., Mercurio  said. That time may move earlier as daylight decreases. Typically, East Greenwich experiences first frost in mid-October. Until then, the district will be adapting to the EEE risk.

The district also treated athletic fields with an all-organic compound earlier this month that is supposed to last 30 days. Administrators will discuss whether a second application is warranted.

The town website encourages residents to take precautions to avoid early morning and early evening activities, continue to use spray protection, and cover open skin areas. In addition, it is strongly recommended to wear protective clothing and sprays if someone has to be outdoors during the early morning or early evening.

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