NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH)– There are certainly a lot of schedule changes going on at the recreation department in New London, as well as at the public works department which is in the same building.
That’s because those are the folks who mow the lawns and get the the fields ready for any outdoor sporting activities.
Public works crews were out and about Tuesday, but they won’t be working up until dark like they sometimes have to do.
“We want the fields mowed, groomed, all set, but we don’t want to put anybody in harm’s way,” said New London Public Works Director Brian Sear.
New London Mayor Michael Passero is calling on all city-sponsored or supervised outdoor events to end by dusk or 6:15pm when mosquitoes are most active. The high school already picked up the ball and ran with it last week when it moved the Friday night football game to Saturday afternoon.
“Then it also delays the other organizations like pee wee football,” said Recreation director Tommy Major.
He is now looking at his schedule of activities to see what needs to be moved around. He’s also planning to go to neighborhood basketball courts and parks to warn folks about the EEE threat. “Yes I will be out there because it affects everybody,” said Major.
The increased precautions come after an East Lyme resident became the state’s first confirmed human case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis in six years.
“It’s not something that anybody should take lightly,” said Kris Magnussen of the Ledge Light Health District.
The virus is rare but dangerous.
“Unfortunately you can end up with some severe neurological issues, brain damage, so to speak, or – unfortunately – up to 30% can die from it,” said Magnussen.
Related: Ways to treat EEE symptoms
The city of Norwich is also taking precautions and says any pre-approved uses of its fields and parks have been cancelled starting at 6:30 p.m. until dawn.
Norwich Free Academy is also changing its late afternoon and evening activities, and health experts say residents should do the same – at least until the first frost.
“Even one case is one too many,” said Magnussen. “People really need to heed the warnings about not being out after dusk unless they really have to and then they need to be protected.”
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Those protections include wearing insect repellent, long sleeves, and long pants made of tightly woven material. New London city workers already take those precautions to avoid tick bites so that will continue with the threat from mosquitoes.
The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven have collected, identified and tested mosquitoes in Connecticut that contain viruses.
Click on the button below to find out if mosquitoes in your area are carrying the West Nile virus, the Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus or the Jamestown Canyon virus: