PROVIDENCE - The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) today announced a mosquito sample collected on July 25 in Pawtucket has tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV). This is the first finding of WNV in Rhode Island this year.
The positive finding is not unexpected. WNV has also been detected in mosquito samples trapped in Massachusetts and Connecticut. The positive mosquito pool is a species that can bite both birds and humans. In addition to WNV, the state tests for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). To date, there are no confirmed cases of EEE in Rhode Island; however, EEE has been confirmed in mosquito pools in southeastern Massachusetts.
Mosquito-borne diseases are more prevalent in late summer and early fall, and risk typically lasts until the first frost. Personal protection is the first line of defense against mosquitoes that may carry WNV, EEE, or other diseases – and the most effective way to avoid infection. Throughout the mosquito season, the public is reminded to:
• Eliminate mosquito breeding grounds from yards by removing anything that holds standing water, such as old tires, buckets, junk and debris. Just one cup of standing water can produce hundreds of mosquitoes. • Clean gutters so they drain correctly. • Make sure swimming pools are treated with chlorine, pumps are running properly, and any water that collects on pool covers is removed. • 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. Use mosquito repellent with at least 20 percent DEET but no more than 30 percent. Do not use repellent on infants.
Horses are particularly susceptible to WNV and EEE. Horse owners are advised to vaccinate their animals early in the season and practice the following:
• Remove or cover areas where standing water can collect. • Avoid putting animals outside at dawn, dusk or during the night when mosquitoes are most active. • Insect proof facilities where possible and use approved repellants frequently. • Monitor animals for symptoms of fever and/or neurological signs (such as stumbling, depression, loss of appetite) and report all suspicious cases to a veterinarian immediately. If you are unsure if your horse is properly vaccinated you should consult with your veterinarian.
Mosquitoes are trapped weekly by DEM and tested at the Rhode Island State Health Laboratories. DEM issues weekly advisories on test results from late June through September, with additional reports as necessary. Test results are pending for the remaining 172 traps set on July 25 and will be included in next week's announcement. Typically positive test results trigger additional trapping to assess risk; today's finding will result in additional trapping in the Pawtucket area where the positive mosquito sample was found.
Visit www.health.ri.gov for additional mosquito prevention tips and for local data. For more information about DEM divisions and programs, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow us on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) and/or Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM for timely updates.