West Nile Virus Found in Mosquitoes Trapped in Great Swamp in West Kingston
PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) are advising Rhode Islanders to take steps to protect themselves from being bitten by mosquitoes. Throughout the mosquito season, which typically lasts through the first hard frost, 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 WNV 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. Instead, put mosquito netting over playpens and baby carriages. • 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.
A sample of mosquitoes collected on September 2 in the Great Swamp in West Kingston has tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV). These findings are not unexpected at this time of the year.
To date, there have been two isolations of WNV in Rhode Island. EEE has not been found this season in Rhode Island. However, both diseases are currently present in our area. WNV and EEE have recently been found in mosquito samples in Massachusetts, and WNV has been isolated from mosquitoes trapped in Connecticut.
Test results also showed the presence of Highlands J virus in a sample of mosquitoes trapped on September 2 near Pocasset Cemetery in northern Tiverton. "The Highlands J virus," said Alan Gettman, DEM Mosquito Abatement Coordinator, "does not produce disease in humans, nor does it guarantee the presence of EEE. It is used as an indicator of the possibility of EEE and simply indicates that environmental conditions are right for the EEE virus to multiply and that the level of risk may be higher."
Test results on the remaining 97 pools of mosquitoes collected on September 2 are pending at the RI Health Department laboratory.
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. 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."