(AP) The Vermont Health Department plans to start aerial
spraying to control mosquitoes in parts of Rutland and Addison
counties where two people were sickened, and one person died, from
the state's first cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis, a rare and
potentially fatal brain infection spread by mosquitoes.
Officials said aerial spraying near Brandon and Whiting using a
pesticide were expected to start Thursday night, Sept. 6 if weather
conditions were favorable.
Ground spraying to control mosquitoes by the Brandon, Leicester,
Salisbury, Goshen Mosquito District started earlier.
Eighty-seven-year-old Richard Hollis Breen of Brandon died
Tuesday of EEE. The Health Department also says a Chittenden County
adult has been hospitalized with West Nile virus, the state's first
human case of the disease, which is also spread by the bite of an
EEE outbreak highlights need for better prevention programs for
In response to two cases of Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE),
including one fatality, the Vermont Department of Public Health has
authorized aerial spraying of pesticides across parts of Addison
and Rutland Counties.
Aerial spraying of pesticides is a last resort in the state's
response plan for EEE and West Nile Virus, and this is the first
time the state has invoked this measure.
EEE is rare, but approximately one third of severe cases prove
"This terrible situation brings to mind the old adage 'an ounce
of prevention is worth a pound of cure'- and prevention is
critical for a disease like Eastern equine encephalitis which
has no known cure," said Lauren Hierl, environmental health
advocate at VPIRG.
"Unfortunately, Vermont has cut its surveillance efforts for
diseases like West Nile Virus and EEE as federal funding has dried
up. This is a trend that must be reversed in order to protect
"In order to reduce the threat of diseases like EEE and West
Nile, and avoid the need for potentially risky pesticide
applications in neighborhoods across the state, we urge full
funding for prevention and education programs," Hierl added. "We
know that climate change increases the likelihood we'll see even
more mosquito-borne diseases, so it's critical that Vermont
officials do everything possible to detect and stop potential
disease outbreaks at the earliest stage."
In addition to improving monitoring programs to prevent the
spread of mosquito-borne illnesses and the need for broad-based
chemical pesticide applications, the Vermont Department of Health
provides a number of recommendations for preventing mosquito bites,
• Limit the amount of time spent outdoors at dawn
• Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants outside
when mosquitoes are active.
• Cover baby carriages and outdoor play spaces
with mosquito netting.
• Fix any holes in the screens in your house and
make sure they are tightly attached
to the doors and windows.
Reduce mosquitoes near your home -
• Remove standing water around your house.
• Dispose of, regularly empty, or drill holes in
the bottom of any water-holding containers (including trash cans
and recycling bins) outside on your property.
• Clean clogged roof gutters of leaves and debris
that prevent drainage of rainwater.
• Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows
when not in use.
• Change water in birdbaths every three or four
days to prevent stagnation.
• Keep swimming pools clean and properly
chlorinated. Remove standing water from pool covers.
• Use landscaping to keep standing water from
collecting on your property.
"It's important to note that chemical pesticides are designed to
kill living things. We shouldn't assume they're safe, but
instead should avoid them whenever possible," said Hierl.
The pesticides used in aerial spraying pose potential
environmental threats - including toxic impacts on numerous types
of insects and aquatic species - and human health threats, such as
exacerbation of respiratory conditions like asthma, plus irritation
of the eyes, skin, nose, throat or lungs. Potential longer-term
health effects are also possible, but are not yet well
In communities with aerial spraying scheduled, VPIRG encourages
people to take precautionary steps to reduce their family's
• Stay inside or out of the area during spraying
and for at least 30 minutes after spraying. Keep pets inside too,
• Close windows, doors and outside vents before
spraying begins to circulate indoor air.
• Bring toys and laundry inside before spraying.
Cover outdoor tables and wash them off with soap and water after
• Bring pet food and water dishes inside, and
cover fish ponds.
• Pick fruit and vegetables you expect to eat
soon before spraying begins. Wash all produce before cooking or
If you come in contact with pesticide spray -
• Protect your eyes. If you get spray in your
eyes, rinse with water immediately.
• Wash any exposed skin.
• Wash clothes that come in direct contact with
spray separately from other laundry.
• Consult your health care provider if you think
you are experiencing health effects from spraying.
"We urge Vermont leaders to adequately fund surveillance and
other prevention efforts so aerial spraying of pesticides is not
necessary to deal with mosquito-borne diseases in the future," said
Hierl. "In the short-term, we encourage Vermonters - particularly
those in Addison and Rutland counties - to take the recommended
steps both to prevent mosquito bites and to protect their families
and pets from exposure to pesticides."