PROVIDENCE – The Department of Environmental Management announces that test results from 186 mosquito pools, or samples, from 36 traps set statewide during the week of July 21 are negative for both West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis. Results from 147 pools collected from 34 traps set July 28 are pending at the RI Department of Health (HEALTH) Laboratory.
To date, there have been no isolations of Eastern Equine Encephalitis or West Nile Virus in Rhode Island. However, both diseases are currently present in our area. Both have recently been isolated from mosquito samples in Massachusetts, and WNV has been isolated from Connecticut.
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.
Eliminate mosquito breeding grounds from yards by removing anything that holds standing water, such as old tires, buckets, junk and debris, clean gutters so that they drain correctly, and maintain swimming pools properly. Mosquitoes breed in standing water. Just one cup of standing water can produce hundreds of mosquitoes. Avoid mosquito bites by using screens on windows and doors, covering up at dawn and dusk, and putting mosquito netting over playpens and baby carriages when they are outside. Also, use mosquito repellent, but with no more than 30 percent DEET. Do not use repellent on infants.
Mosquitoes are trapped every week statewide by DEM staff and tested at the 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.
One pool of mosquitoes captured on July 21 from a trap set on Block Island tested positive for Jamestown Canyon Virus (JCV). While JCV rarely causes human illness, this finding indicates that environmental conditions are appropriate for virus transmission. This should serve as a reminder to Rhode Islanders that other, more serious mosquito-borne diseases become more prevalent in the latter part of the summer and into the fall.
For online information about mosquito-borne diseases, go to DEM's website, www. 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."