PROVIDENCE – The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) encourage residents to protect themselves from mosquito-borne diseases after this week's hard rains by eliminating mosquito breeding grounds and avoiding mosquito bites. Personal protection is the first line of defense against mosquitoes that can carry diseases and is by far the most effective way of avoiding infection.
The reminder also coincides with Rhode Island's first positive finding of West Nile Virus from a mosquito pool. A sample, or pool, of 18 mosquitoes collected on August 4th from the Great Swamp area of West Kingstown has tested positive for West Nile Virus. In addition, the mosquito species that tested positive can bite humans. Test results on the remaining 150 pools of mosquitoes collected on August 4th are pending at the State Health Laboratories.
This finding marked the first positive West Nile Virus sample identified in Rhode Island this season. A positive finding of Jamestown Canyon Virus was identified and reported in a mosquito pool tested last week. To date this season, no mosquitoes have tested positive in Rhode Island for Eastern Equine Encephalitis. There have been no reported 2014 human cases of illness involving West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or Jamestown Canyon Virus in Rhode Island at this time.
West Nile Virus is most commonly spread by infected mosquitoes and can cause febrile illness, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord). More severe symptoms can include: high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness, and paralysis. Milder symptoms may include body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. Symptoms can last just a few days or up to several weeks.
These mosquito pool findings are not unexpected at this time of the year. The mosquito season typically lasts through the first hard frost in autumn and all Rhode Islanders should take extra care to protect themselves and their families from mosquito-borne illness:
•Remove 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.
•Help keep mosquitoes away from your surroundings. Be sure all open windows are screened, repair any holes in screens, and fix loose screens.
•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. Instead, put mosquito netting over playpens and baby carriages.
•Time activities for maximum protection. If possible, minimize outdoor activities between dusk and dawn.
Mosquitoes are trapped every week statewide by DEM staff and tested at the RI Department of Health State Health Laboratories. 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 trappings to assess risk.
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