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State Senator

Norm Needleman

Representing Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook

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Senator Needleman Advises Safety Tips, Announces Schedule Changes Amid Increased Risk of Eastern Equine Encephalitis

With recently heightened risk of catching the virus Eastern Equine Encephalitis, after the confirmation that a human in East Lyme and three horses in New London and Windham Counties were diagnosed with the illness in recent weeks, State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) advises residents of the 33rd Senate District to take precautions and protect themselves from the life-threatening disease transferred by mosquito bites. The Department of Public Health reports that mosquitos tested positive in 12 towns, including Chester and Haddam, and a Colchester horse also contracted EEE.

While normally considered rare, with an average of seven cases reported per year, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, also known as EEE, can be seriously life-threatening, according to the DPH. However, there are many ways to lower risk of contracting EEE, with the most prominent being preventing mosquito bites. The DPH recommends taking the following precautions to reduce risk of EEE:

  • Use insect repellent. This product, when used as directed, can protect all individuals from insect bites.
  • Cover up when outside, wearing long sleeves and long pants.
  • Prevent insects from entering your home using air conditioning, window screens or door screens.
  • Limit outdoor exposure of infants and children.

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control advises that mosquitos are most active in the early morning and evening. If possible, limit time outdoors during those periods of time. The EEE threat will remain active until nightly temperatures drop low enough for frost, which generally occurs in early-to-mid October.

Due to the increased risk of EEE, several local towns and schools have additionally made adjustments to regular schedules to keep residents safe.

  • East Hampton Public Schools will end all outdoor after-school activities, athletic practices, and athletic games prior to dusk until the first heavy frost.
  • The Town of East Hampton will treat the borders of its high, center and middle school athletic fields with organic mosquito sprays that do not pose risk to humans.
  • Colchester Public Schools will end all outdoor activities by dusk except for athletic competitions. School officials plan to attempt to reschedule athletic competitions to earlier in the afternoon or weekends, possibly requiring early release of students. They also ask for residents to refrain from using outside spaces at Colchester schools at and after dusk.
  • The Town of Colchester will treat William J. Johnston Middle School’s retention ponds with a biological mosquito control that is otherwise harmless to wildlife and pets.

Other towns and school systems may change schedules and use treatments. Please check town websites for further information.

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