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RIDOH Reports First Human Case of West Nile Virus in 2023

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is announcing Rhode Island's first human case of West Nile Virus (WNV) in 2023. WNV is spread to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito.

The person who tested positive was a resident of Newport County in their 70s who developed symptoms of WNV in late August and is recovering.

"Mosquito season in Rhode Island is not over. People need to continue taking prevention measures through the first hard frost," said Interim Director of Health Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH. "The best way to prevent mosquito-borne diseases is to prevent mosquitoes from breeding and to avoid mosquito bites. Mosquitoes breed in water, so you should get rid of anything around your house and yard that collects water, such as tires, planters, and old trash cans or recycling bins. You should use repellent, and also wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when you are outside, especially at sunrise and sunset."

There continues to be an increased level of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and WNV circulating in mosquitoes this year in Rhode Island and the Northeast. Connecticut has confirmed four WNV cases in a human and Massachusetts has confirmed three human cases this year. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and RIDOH have confirmed 13 WNV findings in mosquito samples from around Rhode Island as of last Friday: six in Westerly, two in Barrington, and one each in Central Falls, Cranston, Johnston, Richmond, and Tiverton. DEM and RIDOH will be announcing the latest mosquito sample findings on Friday.

Common symptoms of WNV include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash. Although many people who are infected with WNV show no symptoms, symptoms last for some people for several days or several weeks.

Protect yourself:

- Put screens on windows and doors. Fix screens that are loose or have holes. - At sunrise and sundown (when mosquitoes are most active), consider rescheduling outdoor activities. If you must be outside, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants and use bug spray. - Use EPA-approved bug spray with one of the following active ingredients: DEET (20-30% strength); picaridin, IR3535; and oil of lemon eucalyptus or paramenthane. Do not use bug spray with DEET on infants under two months of age. Children should be careful not to rub their eyes after bug spray has been applied on their skin. Wash children's hands with soap and water to remove any bug spray when they return indoors. - Get rid of mosquito breeding grounds: - Get rid of anything around your house and yard that collects water. Just one cup of water can produce hundreds of mosquitoes. - Clean your gutters and downspouts so that they can drain properly. - 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. - Remove or treat any shallow water that can accumulate on top of a pool cover. - Change the water in birdbaths at least once a week and rinse out birdbaths once a week.

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