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Mosquitoes in Tiverton, Coventry test positive for EEE

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Mosquitoes in Tiverton, Coventry test positive for EEE

Jun 21, 2024 | 1:50 pm ET
By Nancy Lavin
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Mosquitoes in Tiverton, Coventry test positive for EEE
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Mosquitoes collected in traps in Tiverton and Coventry on June 10 have tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis. (Getty image)

A sure sign of summer in southern New England: mosquitoes, and the diseases they carry.

Rhode Island had its first positive test of mosquitoes with Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and Rhode Island Department of Health announced Thursday. The virus was detected in mosquitoes collected from Tiverton and Coventry on June 10.

Although extremely rare in humans, EEE can be very serious. Approximately 30% of people infected with EEE die, and many survivors have ongoing neurological problems. 

Unlike West Nile virus (WVN), which is prevalent in Rhode Island every year, EEE risk is variable, changing from year to year.

However , DEM in its announcement also noted the positive virus tests arrived earlier than usual in the mosquito season, and from two “geographically distant” municipalities. In 2023, the first EEE-positive mosquitoes in Rhode Island weren’t detected until late August.

The local mosquito samples tested negative for West Nile and a third, emerging mosquito-borne disease called Jamestown Canyon Virus. Massachusetts and Connecticut have not yet reported any findings of mosquito-borne diseases, according to DEM.

State officials are urging residents to take precautionary measures, including protective clothing, bug spray and limiting outdoor activities and dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most prevalent. Property owners are also encouraged to remove standing water from their land, which is a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Additional prevention tips and information about EEE is available at health.ri.gov/mosquito. Mosquitoes are trapped weekly by DEM and tested at the RIDOH State Health Laboratories. DEM issues advisories on test results from June through September, with additional reports as necessary. Typically, positive test results trigger additional trapping to assess risk.