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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:

October 12, 2000


Kenneth Ayars 222-2781 ext. 4500, cell phone 439-0618
Stephanie Powell 222-4700 ext. 4418, pager 482-2968


Not Surprisingly, 13 More Birds Test Positive for the Disease, But Ground Spraying Not Recommended
DEM's West Nile Virus/EEE Web Page

PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management has announced that test results on 60 pools of mosquitoes collected from 28 traps set statewide between September 27 and October 3 are all negative for West Nile Virus. Results were received Wednesday evening from the University of Rhode Island. In addition, 13 birds were confirmed positive for West Nile Virus by the URI laboratory today, 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, DEM says. 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. The diseased birds reported today would have been infected by biting mosquitoes at least several weeks ago. Since then, the mosquito population has declined, biting activity is much lower, 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.

DEM and the Department of Health have not recommended ground spraying as health risks decrease significantly during this advanced state of the season and weather conditions remain not conducive to spraying. Although the daytime temperatures may rise in the coming days, the evening temperatures, when spraying would occur, are expected to remain too cool for effective spraying.

DEM expects that birds infected with West Nile Virus 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. No mosquitoes, for instance, were trapped in the 18 traps that were set out statewide earlier this week as part of the stateís weekly mosquito trapping and testing program.

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 mosquito 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 West Nile Virus and EEE, and is by far the most effective way of avoiding infection.

New Positive Birds

The latest batch of birds testing positive for West Nile Virus include eight from Westerly, two from Newport, and one each from Warwick, South Kingstown and West Warwick. Westerly has the most sophisticated mosquito abatement program in the state, but clearly there is a focus of West Nile activity there. State officials will be actively seeking reasons for that and what, if anything, can be done to improve the situation, as they plan for the next mosquito season. Despite extensive mosquito trapping in Westerly, no mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile Virus. However, of the 63 birds reported positive for West Nile Virus in Rhode Island to date, 33 were collected in Westerly.

Addresses, collection dates, and species of the 13 birds reported statewide today are: in Westerly, on October 2, a crow from East Avenue, a blue jay from Oenoke Lane, a blue jay from Apache Drive, and a blue jay from Winnapaug Road; on October 3, a crow from Cavern Court and a crow from Laurel Lane; on October 4, a crow from Yosemite Valley Road and a crow from Timothy Drive. Also, in Newport, on October 4, a crow from Bridgecross Road and a crow from Redcross Avenue; in Warwick, on October 3, a crow from Post Road; in South Kingstown, on October 2, a blue jay from Saugatucket Road; in West Warwick, on October 2, a crow from East Greenwich Avenue.

Two-hundred and sixty-nine birds have been tested for West Nile Virus and EEE since DEM's bird surveillance program began in late May, and results for another 10 are pending. Two hundred two of those birds have tested negative for either disease, 50 were previously reported as positive for West Nile Virus and four were previously reported as positive for EEE. Also previously reported was the presence of West Nile Virus in one horse, which was euthanized.

Toll-free information about protection from mosquitoes is available during normal weekday business hours by calling HEALTHís Family Health Information Line at 1-800 942-7434 or DEMís Mosquito Information Line at 1-866-634-7500. It is also available online at and/or

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