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New London suspends evening activities after first human case of EEE reported in East Lyme

NEW LONDON -- The City of New London says they will be suspending "any and all city-sponsored or supervised outdoor activities" by 6:15 p.m, effective immediately.

The decision comes after an adult in neighboring East Lyme tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). It's the first human case identified in the state this season.

The city told employees involved with the activities that they should avoid unnecessary trips into mosquito breeding grounds and marshes:

“[...] are advised against unnecessary trips into mosquito breeding grounds and marshes as the mosquitoes that transmit EEE virus are associated with freshwater swamps and are most active at dusk and dawn. Overnight camping or other substantial outdoor exposure in freshwater swamps in the city and in Connecticut should be avoided. Even though the temperatures are getting cooler, it is important to remember mosquito season is not over and residents should continue to take measures to prevent mosquito bites, including wearing protective clothing and using repellents," said the CT Department of Public Health (DPH)

According to DPH, this is the first human case of EEE identified in Connecticut this season.

DPH said the patient became ill during the last week of August with encephalitis and remains hospitalized.

DPH went on to say, laboratory tests, which were completed today at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Laboratory in Ft. Collins, Colorado, confirmed the presence of antibodies to the virus that causes EEE.

“EEE is a rare but serious and potentially fatal disease that can affect people of all ages,” cautioned DPH Commissioner Renée Coleman Mitchell. “Using insect repellent, covering bare skin and avoiding being outdoors from dusk to dawn are effective ways to help keep you from being bitten by mosquitoes.”

New London parents say the minor inconvenience is worth it to protect their children.

“If one kid gets it, it wouldn’t matter if he was at practice or if they were out camping. It’s still a tragedy,” said Michael Edwards. “You want to take all the precautions that you can.”

Football practice for Edwards son’s wrapped up earlier than normal. Their practice typically runs until 7:00 pm but by 6:15 pm the field was empty. His five children all participate in afternoon activities. The time restrictions are putting him in a time crunch

“So if you’re flying back-and-forth rushing back-and-forth the cops not going to care if you’re speeding to pick your kid up from practice,” said Edwards.

The EEE virus has been identified in mosquitoes in 12 towns and in horses in two other towns. Towns where mosquitoes have tested positive for EEE include Chester, Haddam, Hampton, Groton, Killingworth, Ledyard, Madison, North Stonington, Plainfield, Shelton, Stonington, and Voluntown.

“This is the second human case of EEE ever reported in Connecticut,” said Dr. Matthew Cartter, Director of Infectious Diseases for the DPH. “The first human case of EEE reported in Connecticut occurred in the fall of 2013.”

Mayor Passero says the city ban will mostly affect city-sponsored and school recreational activities. For parents, the minor inconvenience outweighs the risk.

“I find this inconvenient but so is a big hospital stay and so is dying from a mosquito bite,” said Frieda Berrigan.

“That’s the kind of thing that you never really know if it worked. You know it worked when no one gets the virus,” said Edwards.

The restrictions will last until the Connecticut Department of Health gives the all-clear. That may come around the first hard frost of the year. That could be as late as November for New London residents.

To learn more about EEE virus, click here.

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