PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) have announced that a sample of mosquitoes collected on July 29 in the Smith Hill area of Providence has tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV). Samples are tested weekly at the RI Health Department laboratory. The sample, or pool, of 28 mosquitoes is a species that can bite both birds and humans. West Nile Virus is increasingly being detected in mosquito samples trapped at multiple locations in Connecticut and in Massachusetts. While Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) has not yet been isolated in Rhode Island this season, it has been detected in two samples recently collected from Connecticut and in two samples collected in Massachusetts. These findings are not unexpected at this time of the year. Both diseases are more prevalent in late summer and early fall, and risk typically lasts until the first frost.
There have been no reported 2013 cases of WNV or EEE in humans in Rhode Island at this time.
Throughout the mosquito season, residents are encouraged to protect themselves by eliminating mosquito breeding grounds and avoiding mosquito bites. Personal protection is the first line of defense against mosquitoes that can carry diseases such as West Nile Virus and EEE and is by far the most effective way of avoiding infection.
To help protect themselves and their families from mosquito-borne illness, Rhode Islanders should:
• Dress for protection. Wear long pants, long-sleeve shirts and socks during outdoor evening activities.
• Use bug spray. Use mosquito and tick repellent with no more than 30 percent DEET during outdoor activities, particularly at dusk and during evening hours, when mosquitoes are most active. Do not use repellent on infants.
• Time activities for maximum protection. If possible, minimize outdoor activities between dusk and dawn.
• Evaluate the environment. Be sure all open windows are screened, repair any holes in screens, and fix loose screens. Remove any standing water around yards and houses by emptying planters, wading pools, trash and recycling bins, and other places where water might accumulate to reduce mosquito breeding. Mosquitoes breed in standing water. Just one cup of standing water can produce hundreds of mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes are trapped every week statewide by DEM staff and tested at the RI Department of Health (HEALTH) laboratory. DEM will normally report mosquito test results once a week on a routine basis, with additional reports as necessary. Test results from mosquitoes trapped this week will be included in next week's announcement. Positive mosquito test results will generally trigger additional trapping to assess risk.
For online information about mosquito-borne diseases, go to DEM's website, www.state.dem.ri.gov, and click on "Public Health Updates," or go to the HEALTH website, www.health.ri.gov, and click on "E" (Eastern Equine Encephalitis) or "W" (West Nile Virus) under "Health Topics."