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News Release

RI Department of Environmental Management
235 Promenade St., Providence, RI 02908
(401) 222-2771 TDD/(401) 222-4462

For Release:

June 15, 2000

Media Contact:

Gail Mastrati 222-4700 ext. 2402
Stephanie Powell 222-4700 ext. 4418


Preliminary Tests on Sentinel Chicken in Queens, NY are Positive for WNV

PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management has announced that test results from all 50 pools of mosquitoes recovered from 22 traps on June 5 are all negative. The mosquitoes were tested at the University of Rhode Island for West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, and Highland J virus.

Weekly trapping began on May 30 and will continue until the first hard frost in the fall. Results of the June 12 testing will be available late next week.

While there is no indication of West Nile Virus or EEE in Rhode Island, the New York City Department of Health has confirmed today that preliminary tests on a sentinel chicken being monitored in Corona, Queens, were positive for West Nile Virus, and will undergo further examination. (New York press release attached.) Last week, two crows in Rockland County, New York, were found to be infected with West Nile virus. Rockland County is located 25 miles north of New York City.

DEM and the Rhode Island Department of Health have developed a statewide action plan to deal with the possibility that mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus could become present in Rhode Island this year. The main carrier of West Nile Virus in New York last summer was the common house mosquito. Rhode Island's West Nile Virus action plan stresses preventative measures that include elimination of mosquito breeding areas and early application of larvicide, surveillance, and educating the public about steps they can take to reduce mosquito populations around their homes and yards and ways to avoid mosquito bites. The plan builds on the state's continuing efforts to address EEE, another mosquito-borne disease.

Steps Rhode Islanders can take to reduce mosquito populations around their homes and yard include clearing yards of things that collect standing water, such as buckets, old tires, junk, and debris; changing birdbath water frequently; keeping gutters clean so rainwater can freely drain; and eliminating water that collects in boats and unused swimming pools.

Steps they can take to reduce mosquito bites include: repairing and using screens on windows and doors, covering up when outdoors at dawn and dusk, limiting children's outdoor play at sundown when mosquito activity is at its peak, using protective netting over playpens and carriages, and using insect repellents containing not more than 30 percent DEET. Do not use repellents containing DEET on infants, and avoid getting repellent in children's eyes.

For questions about West Nile Virus and health issues, please call the Department of Health's Family Health information line at 1-800-942-7434. The mosquito abatement program has information on a website: There is also a DEM webpage with rabies contacts information. Information on West Nile Virus is also available on the HEALTH website at

New York City Press Release

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