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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:

July 18, 2000

Media Contact:

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

MOSQUITOES TESTED IN RHODE ISLAND SHOW NO SIGNS OF WEST NILE VIRUS

In New York State, Preliminary Tests Detect the Virus For First Time This Year in Mosquitoes

PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management has announced that test results from all 59 pools of mosquitoes recovered from 26 traps on July 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. Test results from mosquitoes collected from traps on July 13 will be available later this week.

While there is no indication of West Nile Virus or EEE in Rhode Island, the New York State Department of Health announced late yesterday that preliminary tests on mosquitoes collected in Westchester and Suffolk Counties during the second week in July were positive for West Nile Virus, the first positive results detected in mosquitoes this year. Westchester County is just north of New York City; Suffolk County comprises Long Island.

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 is the common house mosquito. Rhode Island's West Nile Virus action plan stresses preventive 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: www.uri.edu/research/eee There is also a DEM webpage with rabies contacts information. Information on West Nile Virus is also available on the HEALTH website at http://www.healthri.org/disease/communicable/wnv/home.htm, or on DEM's website at www.dem.ri.gov/programs/bnatres/agricult/mosquito/index.htm.

For more information on the New York situation, go to the New York State Department of Health website at: www.health.state.ny.us/nysdoh/commish/2000/westnile4.htm


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