By ecoRI News staff
A mosquito sample collected July 25 in Pawtucket has tested positive for West Nile virus and is the first finding of WNV in Rhode Island this year, according to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the Rhode Island Department of Health.
The positive finding isn’t unexpected, according to both agencies, as 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, according to DEM.
Mosquito-borne diseases are more prevalent in late summer and early fall, and risk typically lasts until the first frost, according to state officials. 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 mosquito season, DEM reminds the public 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.
Use 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 with at least 20 percent DEET but no more than 30 percent. Don’t use repellent on infants.
Horses are particularly susceptible to WNV and EEE. Horse owners are advised to vaccinate their animals early in the season, 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, and monitor animals for symptoms of fever and/or neurological signs such as stumbling, depression, loss of appetite and report all suspicious cases to a veterinarian immediately.
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.