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




Sunday, August 27


1:00 P.M.


Newport City Hall, 43 Broadway, Newport



For Release:

August 26, 2000

Media Contact:

Stephen Morin 222-4700 ext. 2401, cell phone 465-9214
Stephanie Powell 222-4700 ext. 4418, pager 482-2968

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

PROVIDENCE –The Department of Environmental Management tonight announced the finding of West Nile Virus in Westerly and in Newport.

The positive result in Westerly in came from an American Crow that was collected on Sherwood Drive on August 17. Sherwood Drive is located south of Route 1, near the Westerly airport. The positive result in Newport came from an American Crow that was collected on Cliff Terrace on August 16. The birds were tested at the University of Rhode Island’s virology laboratory. Test results were received by DEM this evening.

The findings are not unexpected, since West Nile Virus has already been identified this year in birds collected by neighboring states, as well as in one crow in Warwick earlier in the month. It 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 Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile Virus and is by far the most effective way of avoiding infection.

In light of the findings, 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 areas, and DEM will recommend ground spraying of populated areas within a two-mile radius of where the crows were found. In the case of the Newport bird, the two mile radius includes parts of Middletown.

Spraying will be done by trained municipal employees from Westerly, Newport and Middletown using truck-mounted ultra-low –volume sprayers provided by DEM. The spraying in Westerly will take place at night, weather permitting, on Monday evening. More information will be available at a press briefing tomorrow at 1 p.m. about spraying plans in all three communities as well as local telephone numbers that residents of the three communities can call for information. 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 the three communities. 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.

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:


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.


If exposed, wash yourself off.


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.

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 will be open extended hours because of tonight’s findings. It will be staffed from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, and until 8 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday evenings.

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, with the exception of the one crow in Warwick.

Note to editors: For information specific to health, contact Robert Marshall, Jr., Ph.D. at the Department of Health, 222-1017, pager 544-4359.

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