Prompted by two human cases of West Nile Virus in Rhode Island, state health officials are asking schools to hold outdoor sports events in the afternoon instead of the evening, to avoid exposure to mosquitoes.
"Rhode Island recently saw its first human case of West Nile Fever and has seen some increase in the number of mosquito pools positive for both West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis," said Michael Fine, MD, director of the R.I. Health Deparment. "Smart scheduling of outdoor activities and personal protection measures are the best ways for Rhode Islanders to protect themselves from mosquito-borne illness."
East Greenwich officials are heeding that call. According to EG Athletic Director Chris Cobain, outdoor athletic events will take place "before dusk." Games that had been scheduled for 7 p.m. are being moved up to 6 p.m. or earlier. They are trying, he said, to have all games finished by 6:30 p.m.
At a minimum, HEALTH recommends that schools and organizations remind all participants in outdoor activities to protect themselves from mosquito bites with some simple personal protection actions, including:
Avoid outdoor activities during dawn and dusk. Mosquitoes are most active at this time If you must be outside at dawn or dusk, wear an insect repellant with no more than 30 percent DEET Wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants when possible to avoid exposing skin to mosquitoes
The Health Department will continue to update school and municipal officials as conditions change. They recommend that smart scheduling stays in effect for the remainder of the mosquito season, which typically ends mid-October (after the first hard frost).