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RIDEM: West Nile Found in Westerly Mosquitoes

Mosquito breeding is picking up this time of year, and as a result, West Nile was found in samples from Chapman Swamp in Westerly.

The Department of Environmental Management announces that a sample of mosquitoes collected on July 9 in Chapman Swamp in Westerly has tested positive for West Nile Virus.

Samples are tested weekly at the Rhode Island Health Department laboratory. The sample, or pool, of 35 mosquitoes is a species that can bite both birds and humans. West Nile Virus is increasingly being detected in mosquito samples trapped at multiple locations in Boston, Western Connecticut and Long Island. 

While Eastern Equine Encephalitis has not yet been isolated in Rhode Island this season, it was recently isolated in mosquitoes trapped in Lakeville, Carver, Rehoboth and Easton, Massachusetts.  Both diseases are more prevalent in late summer and early fall. 

Throughout the mosquito season, residents are encouraged to protect themselves by eliminating mosquito breeding grounds and avoiding mosquito bites. Personal protection is the first line of defense against mosquitoes that can carry diseases such as West Nile Virus and EEE and is by far the most effective way of avoiding infection. 

Eliminate mosquito breeding grounds from yards by removing anything that holds standing water, such as old tires, buckets, junk and debris, clean gutters so that they drain correctly, and maintain swimming pools properly. Mosquitoes breed in standing water. Just one cup of standing water can produce hundreds of mosquitoes.

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. Also, use mosquito repellent, but with no more than 30 percent DEET. Do not use repellent on infants. 

Mosquitoes are trapped every week statewide by DEM staff and tested at the Rhode Island Department of Health laboratory. DEM will normally report mosquito test results once a week on a routine basis, with additional reports as necessary. Test results from mosquitoes trapped this week will be included in next week's announcement. Positive mosquito test results will generally trigger additional trapping to assess risk.

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) or “W” (West Nile Virus) under “Health Topics.”

Release courtesy of RIDEM.

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