2010-08-19 / News

Triple E threat reported in Massachusetts

A Newport County man is the state’s first case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis in 2010 according to the Department of Health.

Health officials from Rhode Island and neighboring Massachusetts are alerting area residents that the man was likely exposed to the mosquitoborne illness in southeastern Massachusetts. In his 20s, the man is in critical condition in a Rhode Island hospital.

“Our thoughts continue to be with this patient and his family,” said Director of Health David R. Gifford, “While we have not had any mosquitoes test positive for EEE in Rhode Island; this case is a reminder that everyone should continue to take steps to prevent mosquito bites and get rid of standing water on their property.”

Aerial spraying in southeastern Massachusetts was conducted from Aug. 5 to 7 and has reduced the overall mosquito populations in southeastern Massachusetts by 80 percent and the number of mammal-biting mosquitoes by 90 percent. Mammal-biting mosquitoes pose the greatest risk to humans.

The last human case in Rhode Island was in 1998 and in 208 in Massachusetts.

EEE is usually spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. It is a serious disease in all ages and can even cause death in some cases.

People have an important role to play in protecting themselves and their loved ones from illnesses caused by mosquitoes.

The states’ health officials recommend using bug spray with DEET but at a strength not greater than 30 percent. Do not use bug spray with DEET on infants.

At sunrise and sundown, when mosquitoes are most active, minimize outside activities. When outdoors, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants and use bug spray.

Put mosquito netting over playpens and baby carriages. Make sure that window screens are in good repair.

Get rid of mosquito breeding grounds by removing all standing water in the yard. Even one cup of water can produce thousands of mosquitoes.

Change the water in birdbaths at least two times a week.

Clean your gutters so that they can drain properly. Remove any water from unused swimming pools or boats and cover them. For more information on EEE, visit the website at www.health.ri.gov.

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