PROVIDENCE - The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) today announced the first batch of mosquitoes trapped and tested this season for West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) are negative. Beginning in June each year and as part of disease monitoring efforts in the state, DEM regularly traps mosquitoes for testing by the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). Test results are issued weekly – with special advisories as needed. The first trapping, conducted on June 5, included 20 traps and 41 mosquito pools. Test results are pending for the 121 pools trapped on June 12.
With WNV and EEE established throughout the state, the public is reminded to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds and avoid bites, where possible. The following precautions are advised:
• Remove anything around your house and yard that collects water; just one cup of water can produce hundreds of mosquitoes. • Clean gutters and downspouts to ensure proper drainage, and repair holes in window screens. • Remove any water from unused swimming pools, wading pools, boats, planters, trash and recycling bins, tires, and anything else that collects water, and cover them. • Change the water in birdbaths at least two times a week, and rinse out birdbaths once a week. • Use EPA-approved bug spray with one of the following active ingredients: DEET (20-30% strength), picaridin, IR3535, and oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol. • Minimize outdoor activity at dawn and at dusk when mosquitoes are most active. • Put insect netting over strollers and playpens. • Wear long sleeves and long pants whenever possible, particularly if you are outdoors during dawn and dusk.
Controlling mosquito populations and promoting personal protection against bites are central to Rhode Island's action plan for WNV and EEE. In partnership with RIDOH, DEM distributed mosquito larvicide to local communities earlier this month to treat area catch basins. Catch basins are prime breeding grounds for mosquitoes in both urban and suburban settings. 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.
Last year, WNV was detected in a mosquito sample from a trap in Pawtucket, and EEE was confirmed in two mosquito samples from traps in Chapman Swamp in Westerly. There were two confirmed human cases of WNV in Rhode Island. For more information about disease monitoring efforts in Rhode Island, visit www.health.ri.gov.
Rhode Islanders are also reminded to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites when traveling to Zika-affected countries. Pregnant women and women who are considering becoming pregnant should not travel to countries with active transmission of Zika.
For more information about DEM divisions and programs, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM or on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) for timely updates.