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News Release

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





11 A.M.





For Release:

August 13, 2000

Media Contact:

Malcolm Grant cell phone 447-1351
Stephanie Powell 222-4700 ext. 4418, pager 482-2968


State Recommends Limited Ground Spraying in Affected Area but Personal Protection Remains Primary Prevention Measure

PROVIDENCE -The Department of Environmental Management this evening announced the first finding of West Nile Virus in Rhode Island.

The positive result came from an American Crow that was collected on Pine Street in the Norwood section of Warwick on August 8. The bird was tested at the University of Rhode Island's virology laboratory. Test results were received by DEM late Sunday.

"Today's positive indication of West Nile Virus in Warwick is not unexpected, with positive results already turning up to our south in Connecticut and to our north in Massachusetts," said Governor Lincoln Almond. "With this indication, we have put into effect our local response plan which includes recommending limited ground spraying.

"I would also remind all Rhode Islanders that the best prevention is personal protection," the Governor added. "This includes the use of bug repellant, wearing proper clothing, and avoiding areas of standing, stagnant water. I would encourage residents to be proactive and eliminate any areas of standing water they may have around the yard which encourage mosquito breeding. This includes garbage barrels, bird baths, old tires and pool covers. These simple steps, combined with the efforts of the Department of Environmental Management and the Department of Health, will serve to greatly reduce the potential threat of West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis."

In light of the finding, and in accordance with the state's West Nile Virus Action Plan, public education emphasizing personal protection will be intensified, DEM will adjust its mosquito surveillance locations by adding additional traps in the area, and DEM will recommend ground spraying of populated areas within a two-mile radius of where the crow was found. That radius includes areas in Cranston as well as in Warwick.

Spraying will be done by trained municipal employees from Warwick and Cranston, using truck-mounted ultra-low -volume sprayers provided by DEM. The spraying will take place at night, weather permitting, on or after Monday evening. More information will be available late Monday morning about spraying plans. No spraying will occur near open water or field crops. The spraying will be preceded by a comprehensive public information effort, as time allows.

The spraying will involve the use of the pesticide Sumithrin, which DEM is supplying to Warwick. Sumithrin is a pyrethroid-based adulticide effective for controlling mosquitoes. The active ingredient in Sumithrin is a man-made pesticide, similar to natural groups of pesticides called pyrethrins, which come from plants such as the common chrysanthemum. These pesticides are also used in pet shampoos, flea sprays and household insect sprays.

Fact sheets will be provided to Warwick and Cranston for distribution to residents within affected areas.

Spraying can be part of a comprehensive program of mosquito control and disease prevention. When implemented, spraying is conducted in accordance with US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state protocol guidelines. Health risks associated with the use of Sumithrin in this manner are negligible. As with any pesticide, you want to reduce exposure.

The Department of Health recommends:

  1. Avoid direct exposure to pesticides.
    • Keep all family members and pets inside during spraying.
    • Stay inside at least 10 minutes after spraying - longer if you can.

2. If exposed, wash yourself off.

3. Consider taking additional steps to further reduce exposure during spraying.

    • Close windows, shut off air conditioners
    • Bring toys, clothes and small equipment inside
    • Cover outdoor tables and big equipment
    • Close car windows, and turn air to re-circulate mode
    • Wash any exposed fruits and vegetables, such as those from your garden, before storing, cooking or eating.

Anyone experiencing adverse reactions to pesticides should call their doctor or the Regional Center for Poison Control at 1-800-682-9211. Persons with asthma or other respiratory problems should stay indoors during spraying.

Warwick residents can get information about ground spraying in their area by calling 738-2000 ext. 6519. Cranston residents can call 461-1000 ext. 3245 during normal business hours for information about spraying in their area.

Information about ground spraying is also available during normal business hours by calling HEALTH's Family Health Information Line: 1-800-942-7434 or DEM 's Mosquito Information Line: 789-8575 (for in-state toll-free connection, call 1-800-752-8088 and ask to be connected to 789-8575. DEM's Mosquito Information Line is expected to be open on Monday, Victory Day, which is a state holiday, because of today's finding.

Under the state's mosquito action plan, testing birds and mosquitoes for signs of the disease has been ongoing since late May. All previous test results have been negative for West Nile Virus.

Click here to go to the Department's EEE and WNV Index Page

Click here to go to the Department's West Nile Virus Bulletin

Note to editors: For information specific to health, contact Mary Jo Takach at the Department of Health, 222-5119, pager 544-4359.

For General Information 222-6800 • After Hours Emergencies 222-3070 • Disclaimer