EEE concerns force time change for SHS-Branford soccer game

Photo of Brian Gioiele

The Shelton boys soccer away game, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 28, at Branford High School, was moved from 6 p.m. to 3 p.m., as Branford city officials have suspended all outside activities beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the wake of the increases cases of Eastern equine encephalitis, particularly in northeast Connecticut.

Shelton is one of the more than 20 communities in which EEE has been reported, and this growing crisis had state officials again warning Connecticut residents to take proper precautions to protect themselves.

EEE-infected mosquitoes, horse cases, and human cases of EEE infection have been reported in: Shelton, Chester, Colchester, Columbia, East Lyme, Groton, Haddam, Hampton, Killingworth, Ledyard, Lyme, Madison, Montville, North Stonington, Old Lyme, Plainfield, Salem, South Windsor, Sterling, Stonington and Voluntown.

Two human cases have been reported in recent weeks. An adult from East Lyme who was diagnosed with EEE in late August has become the first Connecticut resident to die from the infection since 2013.

Shelton High Athletic Director John Niski confirmed the game time change Friday, saying it was Branford High’s decision, and he believes “it was EEE precipitated.”

On Thursday, Sept. 27, state highway alert signs were flashing warnings about the mosquito-borne infection on Fairfield County roadways.

But warnings are not enough, according to 20 legislators who signed a letter to Gov. Ned Lamont Friday, Sept. 28, asking that the Department of Energy and Envrionmental Protection look into aerial spraying of insecticide in areas where high concentrations of EEE have been found.

“With several weeks remaining until the outbreak will naturally end, we believe this spraying would give peace of mind to families across Connecticut,” the legislators wrote.

“Although mosquito numbers are declining with the onset of cool weather, we continue to detect EEE virus in communities in eastern Connecticut,” said Dr. Philip Armstrong, medical entomologist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES). “There is continued risk for mosquito-borne diseases until the first hard freeze when mosquito activity ends.”

“Mosquitoes are still active and residents should continue to take measures to prevent mosquito bites especially during episodes of unseasonably warm weather as predicted for this weekend,” said Dr. Theodore Andreadis, director of the Center for Vector Biology & Zoonotic Diseases at the CAES. “This includes applying insect repellent and covering bare skin, especially in wooded areas and during dusk and dawn when biting mosquitoes are most active.”