First case of West Nile virus confirmed in Rhode Island

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) received confirmation today from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the first human case of West Nile Virus (WNV) in Rhode Island in 2016. A 49-year-old Pawtucket resident was diagnosed with meningoencephalitis caused by WNV on August 12th and was admitted to Rhode Island Hospital that same day. The individual left the hospital on August 23rd after recovering. (Initial WNV test results had to be confirmed by additional testing from CDC.)

“Although we continue to hear about Zika virus in Florida, Rhode Islanders should be aware of other mosquito-borne illnesses as well, such as West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis,” said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. “Anyone who spends time outside should protect themselves from mosquito bites and prevent mosquitoes from breeding. Enjoy all of our state’s natural beauty, but be sure to protect yourself and your family at home and when traveling elsewhere.”

Protect yourself • Put screens on windows and doors. Fix screens that are loose or have holes. • At sunrise and sundown (when mosquitoes that carry WNV or EEE are most active), minimize outside 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 para-menthan-diol. Always read the label and follow all directions and precautions. • 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. • Put mosquito netting over playpens and baby carriages.

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; an unused tire containing water can produce thousands of mosquitoes. • Clean your gutters and down spouts 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. • Change the water in birdbaths at least two times a week, and rinse out birdbaths once a week. • Encourage your neighbors, friends, and family do the same things. Visit RIDOH’s website for additional prevention tips and for Rhode Island-specific data.