2011-09-29 / News

DEM warns about EEE, West Nile virus in R.I.

The Department of Environmental Management announced that test results from 113 mosquito pools, or samples, from 38 traps set statewide during the week of Sept. 12 are confirmed negative for both West Nile virus and eastern equine encephalitis (EEE).

As was reported on Sept. 14 by the state Department of Health, a man in his 50s from Providence County was diagnosed with West Nile virus. The man first developed symptoms on Aug. 25 and was hospitalized the same day. He has recovered and has been discharged from the hospital.

One mosquito pool collected on Aug. 22 in Providence was confirmed positive for West Nile virus, which is increasingly being detected in mosquito samples trapped at numerous locations in New England. An elderly man from Bristol County, Mass. died from EEE earlier this month.

Until the first hard frost eliminates the risk of contracting mosquito-borne diseases, it is important that residents protect themselves by eliminating mosquito breeding grounds on their property, and avoiding mosquito bites. Personal protection is the first line of defense against mosquitoes that can carry diseases such as West Nile virus and EEE and is by far the most effective way of avoiding infection.

Eliminate mosquito breeding grounds from yards by removing anything that holds standing water, such as old tires, buckets, junk and debris; clean gutters so that they drain correctly; and maintain swimming pools properly. Mosquitoes breed in standing water. Just one cup of standing water can produce hundreds of mosquitoes.

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.

Also, use mosquito repellent, but with no more than 30 percent DEET. Do not use repellent on infants.

Mosquitoes are trapped every week statewide by DEM staff and tested at the state Department of Health’s laboratory. DEM will normally report mosquito test results once a week on a routine basis, with additional reports as necessary. Positive mosquito test results will generally trigger additional trapping to assess risk.

This year to date in Rhode Island, one mosquito pool has tested positive for West Nile virus, and one mosquito pool has tested positive for Highlands J virus. No mosquito pools have tested positive for EEE.

For online information about mosquito borne diseases, visit dem.ri.gov.

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