Mosquito borne illnesses and schools

With students taking the fields for practice, games and physical education, the Maine DOE in collaboration with Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC), is sharing this important guidance to schools regarding mosquito borne illnesses.

Two mosquito borne illnesses are considered endemic in Maine: Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile virus (WNV), both of which have previously been identified in Maine with the state seeing its first human case of WNV this year. Both are potentially serious viral infections transmitted to people from the bite of an infected mosquito. The disease is especially severe in children (as well as adults over 50). There is no vaccine or effective treatment for humans. Therefore, prevention strategies are critical.

The risk for contracting mosquito borne diseases is highest from dusk to dawn and when temperatures are above 50 degrees (and especially above 60 degrees), since these are the conditions when mosquitoes are most actively biting.

Schools play an important role in preventing mosquito borne illnesses. Maine CDC and its consulting experts recommend:

  • Cover up outdoors. Children and others on outdoor field trips and participating in other outdoor activities for a significant amount of time when the temperature is above 50 degrees should be encouraged to cover up with long sleeve shirts, pants and socks; and/or
  • Use repellent. Use an EPA-approved repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus on exposed skin and/or clothing. The repellent/insecticide permethrin can be used on clothing and can be effective through several washes. Always follow the package directions. For details on recommended repellents see: http://cfpub.epa.gov/oppref/insect/index.cfm.

School employees and volunteers must have authorization from parents or guardians before applying repellants to minor children (CMR 01-026, Chapter 10, Section 2.I.4.iii): www.maine.gov/sos/cec/rules/01/026/026c010.doc.

Schools that schedule practices or games at dusk or evening with temperatures above 50 degrees should encourage the use of repellant for all participants including coaches and observers.

  • Implement Integrated Pest Management strategies. Since we anticipate the risk from mosquito borne illnesses to continue, schools should consult with their IPM coordinator to review their IPM policy. Information on Maine’s School IPM Program can be found at www.maine.gov/agriculture/pesticides/schoolipm/what/index.htm.

Please monitor Maine CDC’s arboviral website for the most up-to-date information on positives detected in the state. If mosquito borne disease activity increases, other strategies to minimize exposures to the mosquitoes that can transmit EEE and WNV may include:

  • Consider limiting/rescheduling evening outdoor activities. Unless the dusk temperature is forecast to be less than 50 degrees, consider limiting or rescheduling outdoor group evening activities such as school athletic events so people are able to go indoors by one hour before sunset, or make sure participants and spectators know to use repellent.

All these recommendations are especially true in those areas with previously-identified mosquito borne illnesses. However, the lack of identified virus in an area of the state does not mean there is no risk.

Maine CDC has one-page fact sheets for EEE, WNV and repellents, which we encourage you to send home with students, share by email and/or post on your school website(s), as you deem appropriate. You can access the facts sheet here:
www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/infectious-disease/epi/vector-borne/index.shtml.

Resources to learn more about mosquito borne illness and mosquito control:

Maine Department of Education and Maine CDC continue to work very closely together and are greatly appreciative of your assistance in keeping Maine’s children and school communities healthy.

LEAVE A REPLY. We encourage reader comments to foster a substantive dialogue about education in Maine. Essentially, be brief, be respectful, stay on topic, and include your first and last names. Read the rest of the Maine DOE Newsroom’s comments policy (linked below).

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s