By News Staff

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WEST WARWICK, R.I (WLNE) - The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announced on Monday that an individual from West Warwick infected by EEE died. 

On Aug. 30, RIDOH announced the state's first human case of EEE since 2010 in an individual in their 50s. 

The person passed away on Sunday, making it the first fatal case of EEE in Rhode Island since 2007. 

The announcement comes as the state's aerial mosquito treatment of areas in critical risk of EEE will continue Monday night after a successful spraying plan on Sunday. 

Sunday night into Monday morning, spraying was done in all of West Warwick and Parts of Coventry, Warwick, Cranston, East Greenwich, West Greenwich; as well as all of Central Falls, North Providence, Pawtucket, and parts of Providence, East Providence, Smithfield, Lincoln, and Cumberland. 

The spraying on Sunday night was not completed due to falling temperatures. 

DEM decided to begin spraying after taking a hard look at many factors that would raise red flags that spraying will need to be performed. Aerial spraying has not been performed in the state since 1996 in Westerly.

According to Ken Ayars, chief of the Agricultural Division with DEM, it's not a decision that's taken lightly, and experts on the state's Mosquito Advisory Board believe it's one of the worst years they've ever seen.

"In the past week, some of those indicators have revealed information to us that made us move the response up to another level," Ayars said. "There's a lot of virus in the environment and it's rather unprecedented. And that's the reason the response level is something we haven't seen since 1996, frankly."

Some of those factors include mosquitoes testing positive, horses coming down with the sickness, and human cases.

According to DEM, the effectiveness of spraying is limited when the temperature falls below 58 degrees. 

The DEM said spraying will continue at dusk on Monday and continue into Tuesday morning.

 

 

The DEM will provide more details on timing when the flight plan is finalized.  

The pesticide being applied is being used at very low concentrations, and will not occur over fish hatcheries, certified organic farms, surface drinking water supplies, and other open water bodies. 

The DEM says the produce being sprayed has no expected adverse health risks, but while spraying is occurring, the DEM recommends to err on the side of caution and limit outdoor time and keep windows closed. 

The death in west Warwick is the second in New England from EEE. A woman from fairhaven died last month from the virus.

The threat of EEE will continue until mid-October, around the time of the first frost.

Further information on health and spraying can be found here

WLNE-TV/ABC6 2019