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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 30, 2000

Media Contact:

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

DEM RECEIVES CONFIRMATION OF WEST NILE VIRUS IN FIVE CROWS IN THREE COMMUNITIES

Ground Spraying Not Recommended At This Time Due to Cool Weather, Less Biting Activity; Personal Protection Remains Primary Prevention Measure
DEM's West Nile Virus/EEE Web Page

PROVIDENCE –The Department of Environmental Management this morning announced the finding of West Nile Virus in five American crows collected in three communities- North Kingstown, South Kingstown and Westerly- between September 21 and September 24. The birds were tested at the University of Rhode Island’s Mosquito Virus Testing Laboratory. Confirmatory test results for all five were received by DEM late Friday afternoon.

The locations and collection dates are: Juniper Drive in North Kingstown on September 23; Holly Road in South Kingstown on September 24; and, in Westerly, Wilcox Park on September 21, Timothy Drive on September 24, and Montauk Avenue, also on September 24.

Spraying Not Recommended at This Time

DEM expects that birds infected with the disease will continue to be found for the next few weeks. However, because of the cooler nights and shorter days, new mosquito production has essentially stopped. The total mosquito population declines daily as older mosquitoes die, and the biting activity of those that remain becomes less frequent and of shorter duration as seasonal temperatures continue to decrease. All of these factors add up to a significant reduction in the human health risk for West Nile Virus.

DEM and the Department of Health do not recommend the spraying of contact adulticides such as Sumithrin when evening temperatures drop much below 60 degrees, and under no circumstances when below 55 degrees; at such low temperatures mosquitoes are not active. Spraying becomes less and less suitable as the season progresses, and weather conditions conducive to spraying are less and less likely to occur. The current long-range forecast is not suitable for spraying activity.

Personal Protection Remains Key

However, Rhode Islanders should continue to take personal protection steps to avoid mosquito bites, such as covering up at dusk and dawn when remaining mosquitoes are most likely to bite, and wearing mosquito repellent when venturing into areas of higher mosquito activity, such as hiking in the woods in warmer weather. Personal protection is still 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.

Bird Tests Positive for EEE

DEM was also notified late yesterday by the lab that a Northern Raven collected on September 21 from Snake Hill Road in Chepachet has tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis. Consistent with the state's Mosquito Borne Disease Plan, DEM and the Department of Health recommend against ground spraying of pesticides in this circumstance. 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. 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.

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, 155 birds have tested negative for either disease, 20 previously tested positive for West Nile Virus, and three previously tested positive for EEE. In addition, the presence of West Nile Virus was previously reported in a horse, which was euthanized.

Toll-free information about protection from mosquitoes is 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. It is also available online at www.health.state.ri.us and/or www.dem.state.ri.us.

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


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