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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 18, 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 Affected Area;
Personal Protection Remains Primary Prevention Measure
DEM's West Nile Virus Bulletin

PROVIDENCE –The Department of Environmental Management this evening announced the second finding of West Nile Virus in Westerly.

The positive result came from an American Crow that was collected from Wilcox Park in downtown Westerly on September 10. The bird was tested at the University of Rhode Island’s Mosquito Virus Testing Laboratory. Confirmatory test results were received by DEM at 5:30 p.m. this evening.

The finding is not unexpected, since West Nile Virus has already been identified this year in Rhode Island and 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 and West Nile Virus and is by far the most effective way of avoiding infection.

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 of Westerly within a two-mile radius of where the crow was found. DEM also notified Connecticut state officials of the positive finding, since the bird’s location was close to the Stonington, CT town line.

Spraying in Westerly will be done by trained municipal employees using truck-mounted ultra-low –volume sprayers provided by DEM, no sooner than Wednesday evening, due to weather considerations. No spraying will occur near open water or field crops. The spraying will be preceded by a comprehensive public information effort, as time allows. A telephone number for Westerly residents to call for spraying information in their area will be announced tomorrow.

The spraying will involve the use of the pesticide Sumithrin, which DEM is supplying to Westerly. 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:

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.

Toll-free information about ground spraying and protection from mosquitoes is also available during normal weekday 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 will be open tomorrow evening 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. No mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile Virus or Eastern Equine Encephalitis. To date, 124 birds have tested negative for either disease; seven previously tested positive for West Nile Virus, including an American Crow that was collected on Sherwood Drive in Westerly on August 17; and two previously tested positive for EEE. In addition, the presence of West Nile Virus was previously reported in a horse, which was euthanized.

Note to editors: For information specific to health, contact Robert Marshall, Jr., Ph.D. at the Department of Health at 222-2231, pager 544-4359.

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