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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 19, 2000

Contact:

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

DEMíS WEEKLY MOSQUITO TESTING ENDS FOR SEASON; NO PRESENCE OF WEST NILE VIRUS OR EEE FOUND IN MOSQUITOES

Four More Birds Test Positive for West Nile Virus; Spraying Not Recommended; Bird Testing to Collect Data to Continue Into November
DEM's West Nile Virus/EEE Web Page

PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management has announced that no mosquitoes were caught in 20 traps set between October 4 and October 10. The Department has therefore ended its routine weekly mosquito trapping and testing program for the season, although periodic trapping will be done if circumstances warrant. Despite extensive weekly mosquito trapping throughout the state since May, no mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile Virus or Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

DEM will continue to test birds for scientific data collection at least into November, and will report the results weekly, on Thursdays. The number of birds collected by DEM staff for possible testing has decreased significantly as the mosquito season winds down, from 15 to 20 birds a day to about five per day.

Four more birds were confirmed positive for West Nile Virus by the University of Rhode Island Mosquito Virus Testing laboratory this week. Those birds 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. Those factors add up to a significant reduction in the human health risk for West Nile Virus.

DEM and the Department of Health do not envision authorizing further ground spraying as health risks decrease significantly during this advanced state of the season and cool evening weather conditions remain not conducive to spraying.

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 during such times, by 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 four birds - all crows - testing positive for West Nile Virus include one from Red Chimney Drive in Warwick picked up on October 5, one from Smoke Ridge Drive in North Kingstown picked up on October 7, and two from Westerly, including one from Anderson Court picked up on October 7 and one from Langworthy Road picked up on October 8.

Two hundred seventy-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 12 are pending. Two hundred eight of those birds have tested negative for either disease, 63 were previously reported as positive for West Nile Virus and four were previously reported as positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis. 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 www.health.state.ri.us and/or www.dem.state.ri.us.


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