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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 30, 2000

Media Contact:

Malcolm Grant (pager) 460-9418
Stephanie Powell 222-4700 ext. 4418

DEM: MOSQUITO TESTS SHOW THE PRESENCE OF HIGHLANDS J IN POOL OF BIRD BITING MOSQUITOES TRAPPED IN WESTERLY'S CHAPMAN SWAMP

PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management has announced that it received test results late yesterday showing the presence of Highlands J virus in a pool of bird-biting mosquitoes trapped on July 24 at Pound Road in Chapman Swamp in Westerly. Results for 59 additional pools of mosquitoes collected from 24 other traps set statewide on that date are expected by the middle of the week.

Highlands J virus, while not affecting humans, is an indication that Eastern Equine Encephalitis may also be present in area birds. However, DEM, in accordance with its EEE action plan, is not recommending ground spraying as a result of this one indicator isolation of Highlands J.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis is a very rare but serious and sometimes fatal viral disease contracted through the bite of an infected mosquito. In most years, the virus is limited to native bird populations and bird-biting mosquitoes, but rarely the virus can be transmitted to humans and domestic animals.

The finding is a reminder that all Rhode Islanders should continue to take personal protection steps to avoid mosquito bites, and to prevent mosquito breeding grounds around their homes. Personal protection is the first line of defense against mosquitoes that can carry diseases such as EEE and West Nile Virus and is by far the most effective way of avoiding infection. West Nile has not been identified in Rhode Island, although it has been identified in neighboring states.

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.


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