PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) today announced test results for its final set of mosquito samples this season. One mosquito sample collected on September 27, 2016 in Chapman Swamp in Westerly has tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). This is the second finding of EEE in Rhode Island this year; in August, the first confirmed finding of EEE in a mosquito sample was also collected in Chapman Swamp. The remaining 44 samples from 20 traps set on Monday, September 26, 2016 and Tuesday, September 27, 2016 have tested negative for both West Nile Virus (WNV) and EEE. Testing is being suspended in light of the cooler temperatures and the related drop in mosquito populations statewide.
While mosquito numbers are lower, Rhode Island has not yet experienced a hard frost – which eliminates the risk of contracting mosquito-borne diseases. People may still see an occasional mosquito, particularly on warmer days and nights, and should continue to protect themselves against bites.
Although only very small numbers of Aedes albopictus (the species that carries the Zika virus) were found in Rhode Island this year, it is important to limit any population growth of Aedes albopictus during next year's mosquito season by eliminating mosquito breeding grounds before this year's first winter frost.
The public is encouraged to eliminate standing water in and around their home by taking the following steps: • Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, drain, cover, or throw out items that hold water, such as buckets, planters, toys, pool covers, boats, birdbaths, flowerpots, trash containers, or old tires. • Put plants in soil, not in water. • Tightly cover water storage containers (buckets, cisterns, rain barrels) so that mosquitoes cannot get inside to lay eggs. • For containers without lids, use wire mesh with holes smaller than an adult mosquito (window screen is the appropriate mesh size for mosquitoes).
The public is also reminded to use screens on windows and doors and to repair holes in screens in order to keep mosquitoes out of their home. During the mosquito season, there was one confirmed local finding of WNV in a mosquito sample and two confirmed findings of EEE in mosquito samples. There was also one confirmed human case of WNV in Rhode Island. Mosquitoes were trapped weekly by DEM from June through September and tested at the State Health Laboratories at the Rhode Island Department of Health.
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.