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



September 5


11 a.m.


South Kingstown Town Hall
180 High Street, Wakefield



For Release:

September 4, 2000

Media Contact:

Malcolm Grant 222-6605, cell phone 447-1351
Stephanie Powell 222-4700 ext. 4418, pager 482-2968


State Recommends Limited Ground Spraying in Parts of South Kingstown, Narragansett, but Personal Protection Remains Primary Prevention Measure

PROVIDENCE -The Department of Environmental Management today announced the first finding of West Nile Virus in South Kingstown.

The positive result came from a horse stabled on Saugatucket Road in Wakefield that was euthanized at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine in Massachusetts on August 28. Tests were performed by the National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa for the United States Department of Agriculture. Confirmatory test results were received by DEM about 10 a. m. today.

This marks the first time in Rhode Island that a horse has contracted the disease, evidence that mammal-biting mosquitoes in Rhode Island that bite humans are carrying the West Nile Virus. Despite intensive trapping, DEM has yet to identify mosquitoes with the disease. Mosquitoes are the only means of transmitting West Nile Virus.

Today's news is not unexpected since West Nile Virus has already been identified this year in birds in Rhode Island as well as in neighboring states. 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 (EEE) and West Nile Virus and is by far the most effective way of avoiding infection.

Although horses can be protected by vaccine to EEE, there is no vaccine for West Nile Virus. Horse owners are advised to stable their horses during high mosquito feeding times - dusk through dawn. Insect proofing of stables and use of repellents is strongly recommended.

Last fall, some 20 horses were infected with West Nile Virus on Long Island, and nine died. There is no evidence that the virus can be transmitted from horses to people, or from horse to horse.

Signs of West Nile Virus in horses include anorexia, depression, listlessness, plus any three of the following signs: fever, weakness of hind limbs, flaccid paralysis of the lower lip, impaired vision, ataxia, head pressing, aimless wandering, convulsions, inability to swallow, circling, hyper-excitability, paresis, coma or death.

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 horse was stabled. The radius includes parts of South Kingstown and parts of Narragansett.

Spraying will be done by trained municipal employees from South Kingstown and Narragansett using truck-mounted ultra-low -volume sprayers provided by DEM. The spraying will take place at night, and is planned to begin at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in both communities, weather permitting, More details will be available at an 11 a.m. press briefing Tuesday at South Kingstown Town Hall, after a meeting between DEM and town officials. No spraying will occur near open water or field crops. The spraying will be preceded by a comprehensive public information effort, as time allows.

South Kingstown residents can get information about ground spraying in their area by calling the police department at 783-3321 today if necessary. Tomorrow, South Kingstown residents can call 789-9331 from 8:30 a.m. until spraying is completed. Narragansett residents can call 782-0637 tomorrow from 8:30 a.m. until spraying is completed.

The spraying will involve the use of the pesticide Sumithrin, which DEM is supplying to South Kingstown and Narragansett. 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.

Toll-free information about ground spraying and protection from mosquitoes 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: 1-866-634-7500. DEM's Mosquito Information Line is expected to be open extended hours on Tuesday.

Under the state's mosquito action plan, testing birds and mosquitoes for signs of the disease has been ongoing since late May. No mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile Virus or Eastern Equine Encephalitis. To date, 80 birds have tested negative for either disease, four previously tested positive for West Nile Virus, and one previously tested positive for EEE.

Note to editors: For information specific to health, contact Mary Jo Takach at the Department of Health, 222-5119, cell phone 639-6485.

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