QU students react to the threat of EEE
Wentworth Homemade Ice Cream on Whitney Avenue is a Quinnipiac favorite on warm nights in the summer and early fall. But after concerns about EEE prompted Hamden's mayor to ask residents to avoid the outdoors at dusk, students say that enjoying ice cream outside doesn’t feel quite right.
“I normally sit on the swings and relax,” senior Paige Parton said on a recent Wednesday evening from inside the ice cream parlor. “But I didn’t want to get EEE.”
“I’ve already been bitten two nights ago, twice, so I don’t want the possibility of exposing myself too much,” Parton said.
Parton went out for ice cream with junior nursing major Brendan Dillon, who says he feels that nothing is being done about the risks of mosquitoes carrying EEE.
“The state and Quinnipiac aren’t saying, here’s how you protect yourself, this is what it is and this is what we’re doing,” Dillon said.
However, junior criminal justice major Chris Cohen appreciates the care Quinnipiac has for its students.
“I think Quinnipiac is doing a good job spreading the message,” Cohen said. “They sent us an email about the details of EEE and set up stands to pass out mosquito bracelets and other forms of repellent.”
EEE or Eastern Equine Encephalitis is caused by a virus carried by mosquitoes. As of Oct. 7, three people have died in eastern Connecticut after contracting the EEE virus and a fourth person remains hospitalized with EEE, according to a Connecticut Department of Public Health press release from Oct. 1.
Scientists are testing mosquitoes across the state for the EEE virus and as of Oct. 5 The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station reported that 19 towns have found EEE-positive mosquitoes. While no mosquitoes carrying the virus have been detected in Hamden, North Haven or New Haven, local officials, including those at Quinnipiac, are urging residents to avoid the outdoors between dusk and dawn when the mosquitoes are most active.
The Sleeping Giant State Park is also a hotspot for Quinnipiac students and Hamden residents to hike. The parking lot was empty on the morning of Oct. 1, despite the weather being sunny and warm.
Junior nursing major Raeanne Bryceland believes part of the scarce activity is due to the neglect of Quinnipiac and state officials.
“I think Quinnipiac should be doing more to prevent EEE,” Bryceland said. “It’s preventing people from going outside, especially since the weather’s been really nice the past couple of weeks. (Last week) it was 86 degrees and people were wearing pants because they were scared of being bitten by mosquitoes.”
HQ Press reached out to Hamden Mayor Curt Leng to see what additional precautions Hamden has taken. According to Leng, Hamden has “enacted a dusk till dawn ban that will apply to all town and board of education events.”
Hamden will also “consult with the Quinnipiack Valley Health District about weekend events hosted by charities and organizations.”
College athletics are also being affected, as UCONN football moved its kickoff time from 7 p.m. to noon. Hartford moved its men’s soccer game on Tuesday to 2 p.m.
Quinnipiac Athletics issued a press release Wednesday, stating that the field hockey team’s matchup against Liberty on Friday was moved to from 3 p.m. to 2 p.m.
The Quinnipiac Student Health Services Department is also acting to protect students from EEE. On Wednesday, Oct. 2, health center staff had bug spray available for students to take.
But Quinnipiac’s safety messages aren’t reaching everyone. Parton still doesn’t understand what actions need to be taken.
“What is Quinnipiac doing to limit people going outside? They’ve got to come up with a game plan,” Parton said.
For more updates on EEE read our story here, and follow @HQPress on Twitter and Instagram.