The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) announced today, Sept. 18, that test results from one mosquito pool -- or sample -- from a trap set on Sept. 9 in Riverside was confirmed positive for West Nile Virus (WNV).
The positive WNV result, said DEM in a press release, was from a pool of mosquitoes that are of the Culex species that feeds on birds and mammals -- not humans.
This finding is not unexpected at this time of the year, according to DEM. This year, to date in Rhode Island, seven pools of mosquitoes have tested positive for WNV and four pools of mosquitoes has tested positive for EEE.
There have been no reported 2013 cases of WNV or EEE in humans in Rhode Island, according to DEM.
Human cases of WNV and EEE have been reported in Massachusetts, and two deaths from WNV were reported in New Jersey.
WNV is most commonly spread by infected mosquitoes and can cause febrile illness, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord). Anyone living in an area where WNV is present in mosquitoes can get infected, according to DEM.
Mosquito season typically lasts through the first hard frost. You are encouraged to protect yourself by eliminating mosquito breeding grounds and avoiding mosquito bites.
Mosquito biting activity can be expected to be high during these unusually warm evening temperatures today and tomorrow. Personal protection is the first line of defense against mosquitoes that can carry diseases such as WNV and EEE and is by far the most effective way of avoiding infection.
Here are the best ways to protect yourself from mosquito bite:
Dress for protection. Wear long pants, long-sleeve shirts and socks during outdoor evening and early morning activities.
Use bug spray. Use mosquito repellent with no more than 30 percent DEET during outdoor activities, particularly at dawn, dusk, and evening hours, when mosquitoes are most active. Do not use repellent on infants. Instead, put mosquito netting over playpens and baby carriages.
Minimize outdoor activities between dusk and dawn.
Evaluate the environment. Be sure all open windows are screened, repair any holes in screens, and fix loose screens. Residents and facility groundskeepers should immediately look for and empty standing water following heavy rain, and ensure rain gutters are clear of debris that might trap water. Remove any standing water around yards and houses by emptying planters, wading pools, trash and recycling bins, and other places where water might accumulate to reduce mosquito breeding. Mosquitoes breed in standing water. Just one cup of standing water can produce hundreds of mosquitoes.
Because horses are susceptible to West Nile Virus and EEE, Rhode Island horse owners are reminded that safe and effective vaccines are available to protect their horses. Horse owners should check with their veterinarian to ensure that their horses are properly immunized.
For online information about mosquito-borne diseases, go to DEM's website, www.state.dem.ri.gov, and click on “Public Health Updates,” or go to the HEALTH website, www.health.ri.gov, and click on “E” (Eastern Equine Encephalitis), “M” (Mosquitoes), or “W” (West Nile Virus) under “Topics & Programs.