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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:

September 17, 2000


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


Personal Protection Remains Key Throughout Mosquito Season
(Previously Announced Ground Spraying Based on Findings of West Nile Virus Remains Unchanged)
DEM's West Nile Virus Bulletin

PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management announced today that a sparrow collected on September 13 in Narragansett has tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis. DEM received the results yesterday evening from the University of Rhode Island's Mosquito Virus Testing Laboratory.

Consistent with the state's Mosquito Borne Disease Plan, DEM and the Department of Health recommend against ground spraying of pesticides in this circumstance for two principal reasons.

First, several decades of trapping and testing mosquitoes statewide clearly show that EEE infection is almost always limited to mosquito species which do not bite humans, and, therefore, represent no human health threat. The last major EEE outbreak in 1998 followed this pattern. Out of 14 isolations of the disease statewide in that year, all were in mosquitoes that are exclusive bird biters. Secondly, all evidence is that EEE, even when carried by a human biting mosquito, is much less readily transmitted to a human bitten by that mosquito than is West Nile Virus.

DEM has, however, initiated enhanced surveillance to ensure that the public and community leaders receive the earliest possible warning of human health risk. Mosquito trapping and testing in the area will be increased. DEM will place extra traps Monday night in areas of Narragansett and South Kingstown surrounding the isolation, which is centered on Palm Beach Avenue in Narragansett, southeast of Harbour Island.

And, state officials remind all Rhode Islanders that they 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.

Previously Announced Spray Plans Unchanged

Low level ground spraying will take place tonight as planned in sections of North Smithfield, Smithfield, Lincoln, and Cumberland based on the previously reported finding of West Nile Virus in a crow collected in North Smithfield on September 10. Low level ground spraying is expected to take place Monday night, weather permitting, in sections of North Kingstown based on the previously reported finding of West Nile Virus in a crow collected on September 9.

Residents can call the following local numbers for information on spraying in their area:

North Smithfield - 767-2206
Smithfield - 233-1033
Lincoln - 333-1100
Cumberland - 723-7251
North Kingstown - 294-3331 ext. 210

Detailed information on the areas to be sprayed is also available on DEM's website at and on the HEALTH website at Mosquito information is available during normal business hours by calling toll-free DEM's Mosquito Information Line at 1-866-634-7500 and the Department of Health's Family Health Information Line at 1-800-942-7434.

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