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RI Department of Environmental Management
235 Promenade St., Providence, RI 02908
(401) 222-2771 TDD/(401) 222-4462
ALTHOUGH WEST NILE VIRUS IN BIRDS INCREASES, THREAT TO HUMANS DECREASES AS MOSQUITO POPULATION DECLINES
PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management said today that nine additional birds have tested positive for West Nile Virus, a finding that is not surprising. While the number of birds testing positive for West Nile Virus has increased dramatically throughout the Northeast region toward the end of mosquito season, that is to be expected, says the Department of Environmental Management.
"It is important to remember that West Nile Virus builds up in both mosquito and bird populations as those populations exchange the disease back and forth between themselves: diseased birds infecting mosquitoes, diseased mosquitoes infecting yet more birds. All this takes time," said Malcolm Grant, DEM's Associate Director for Natural Resources Management. "It is also important to recognize that the diseased birds we are reporting today would have been infected by biting mosquitoes at least several weeks ago." Since then, the mosquito population has declined, biting activity has decreased, and no new mosquitoes are being produced. All of these factors add up to a significant reduction in the human health risk for West Nile Virus.
Ground spraying is not recommended as health risks decrease significantly and weather conditions conducive to spraying are less and less likely to occur as the season progresses. Cool evening temperatures and periods of rain are forecast through the remainder of the week.
However, there will be some mosquito activity, particularly during periods of warmer daytime temperatures, until the first hard frost. Rhode Islanders should continue to take personal protection steps to avoid mosquito bites, such as covering up and wearing repellent when mosquitoes are active, such as when 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.
Today's results were received from the University of Rhode Island's Mosquito Virus Testing Laboratory. Birds testing positive include five from Westerly, and one each from North Kingstown, Narragansett, Coventry and Newport. Addresses and collection dates are: from Westerly, Butterfly Drive, Windward Avenue, Spruce Street, Wells Street and High Street, all on September 26; Eileen Drive in North Kingstown on September 25, Indian Trail in Narragansett on September 26; Arnold Road in Coventry on September 26 and Washington Street in Newport on September 26.
Toll-free information about protection from mosquitoes is available during normal weekday business hours by calling HEALTH's Family Health Information Line at 1-800 942-7434 or DEM's Mosquito Information Line at 1-866-634-7500. It is also available online at www.health.state.ri.us and/or www.dem.state.ri.us.