The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management announced Thursday that a mosquito sample collected July 29 in Cranston has tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV) by RIDOH State Health Laboratories. This is the first WNV finding of the summer in Rhode Island and was the only confirmed WNV-positive finding from 70 mosquito samples collected from 10 traps July 29. To date, no mosquito samples have tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in the state.
WNV is much more prevalent than EEE and this finding is not unexpected, as WNV has become established in North America following its introduction in 1999. To date this summer, 37 pools of mosquitoes trapped in Connecticut and 38 mosquito pools in Massachusetts have tested positive for WNV. The positive findings in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and now Rhode Island indicate that WNV has established seasonal activity in our area. WNV will become more prevalent as the season progresses, so DEM and RIDOH advise residents to reduce their exposure to mosquitoes until the first hard frost. There have been no findings of EEE in mosquito pools in Connecticut or 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. With WNV established in the state, residents are reminded to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds and prevent being bitten, whenever possible. The following precautions are advised.
Put screens on windows and doors. Fix screens that are loose or have holes.
At sunrise and sundown (when mosquitoes that carry EEE are most active), consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning. 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. 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 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. Larvicide treatments, such as Mosquito Dunks can be applied to kill immature mosquitoes. This environmentally friendly product is available at many hardware and garden stores and online.
Change the water in birdbaths at least once a week and rinse out birdbaths once a week.
Best practices for horse owners
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 repellents frequently.
Monitor animals for symptoms of fever and/or neurological signs (such as stumbling, moodiness, 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.
Visit health.ri.gov/mosquito for additional mosquito prevention tips, videos, and local data. DEM and RIDOH also remind Rhode Islanders 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.
Mosquitoes are trapped weekly by DEM and tested at the RIDOH State Health Laboratories. DEM issues advisories on test results from July through September, with additional reports as necessary. Test results are pending for 202 mosquito pools collected from 48 traps August 2 to August 5 and will be included in future announcements. Typically, positive test results trigger additional trapping to assess risk.
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