OXFORD — First Selectman George Temple updated residents and the Board of Selectmen on the Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus at the board’s meeting on Wednesday, October 2.
Mr. Temple stated officials are still taking precautions especially for student activities. He explained that after communicating with Superintendent Dr. Jason McKinnon they have scheduled football games to start at 4 p.m. instead of 6 p.m.
Each participant in the football games (players, coaches, etc.) will be given Off repellent spray according to Mr. Temple. He added the EEE virus is not a local issue, but mainly been found in eastern Connecticut along the shoreline.
He said he has spoken to mayors and selectmen from surrounding towns that have taken similar precaution approaches to Oxford.
“The approach the superintendent is taking is a great one,” said Mr. Temple.
Pomperaug Health District Director of Health Neal Lustig told Voices the state Department of Health does not recommend ground spraying for mosquitos since it’s too late in the season nor would it work.
He noted EEE is significantly worse east of the Connecticut River and the first hard frost should kill off mosquitos.
He called the latest updates of mosquitos with EEE confirmed in Shelton, Bethany and Stamford as straggler reports. Peak mosquito season was late August and birds migrating for the winter also carry the virus, according to Mr. Lustig. He noted birds carrying EEE may lead to the recent straggler reports.
“We’re trying to downplay the risk at this point,” said Mr. Lustig. “The risks have been diminishing. We’ve made the standard recommendations to local schools [Region 15, Region 14 and Oxford].”
He also said mosquitos will not come out if the weather is 55 degrees or lower and EEE has been more prevalent in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. He noted that recommendations were sent to Region 15, Region 14 and Oxford schools as extra precaution.
The DPH announced on Tuesday, October 1, a third death related to EEE, in East Haddam, and a fourth person is currently hospitalized with it. DPH officials recommend that residents in eastern Connecticut, close to the Rhode Island border, take extra precautions.
Signs along I-84 and areas in Oxford, Southbury and Middlebury warn residents to stay indoors from dusk to dawn and wear long sleeves and Off spray when outdoors.
Dr. Theodore Andreadis, director of the Connecticut Agricultural Experimentation Station, said in a statement that the mosquito population is currently decreasing, noting traps continue to monitor the population levels.
Mr. Lustig told Voices besides EEE there has been a confirmed case of West Nile as of September 30 and four new cases of a new emerging Powassan virus, a tick-bite related virus, in Connecticut spreading encephalitis.
More information and statistics on Powassan can be found at the Center of Disease Control Prevention website.
In other news, a resident of Oakwood Drive told selectmen of his concerns with the police’s new plate readers, saying the readers invaded personal information. He questioned what police do with the information scanned from plates.
Mr. Temple said the police are catching unregistered cars or warrants for an arrest, but agreed they need to take a closer look at where the data goes.
The resident suggested an ordinance that limited the invasion of privacy and urged selectmen to see what other towns have done.
Selectman Scott Flaherty agreed and said it was something worth looking into and was not something they thought of when approving the plate readers.
Mr. Temple said the ultimate deciding factor for the readers to see warrants for arrest and police protection as well. He noted resident troopers do operate under state police and agreed to look into the matter since they are dealing with residents’ sensitive information.
Selectmen adopted the Liberty Bank resolution of association, allowing Finance Director Jim Hliva to open an account with that bank.
Mr. Hliva told Voices he needed selectmen’s permission due to the Patriot Act and because Liberty Bank was previously known as Naugatuck Savings Bank.
Mr. Hliva told selectmen he shopped around and found Liberty Bank offered the best option for Oxford.