BREAKING: West Nile Virus Found In Rhode Island

The West Nile Virus has been found in mosquitos Rhode Island for the first time this year, according to the Rhode Island Department of Health and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. The virus was found in a mosquito captured in Pawtucket on July 25th.

“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.”

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 summer season, the public is encouraged 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, but with no more than 30 percent DEET. Do not use repellent on infants. To date, there have been no confirmed cases of EEE or WNV in Rhode Island. EEE has been confirmed in Massachusetts. WNV has been detected in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

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 37 traps set on July 25 and will be included in next week’s announcement. Typically positive mosquito test results will trigger additional trapping to assess risk.

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.