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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 27, 2000

Contact:

Kenneth Ayars 222-4700 ext. 4500
Stephanie Powell 222-4700 ext. 4418, pager 482-2968

DEM WEEKLY DATA REPORT SHOWS WEST NILE VIRUS IN SIX BIRDS

Findings Expected; No Spraying Planned
DEM's West Nile Virus/EEE Web Page

PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management reports that, not unexpectedly, six birds were confirmed positive for West Nile Virus during the past week by the University of Rhode Islandís Mosquito Virus Testing laboratory. Although the human health risk for West Nile Virus is substantially reduced because mosquito activity is negligible, DEM will continue to test birds for scientific data collection at least into November, and will report the results weekly. Despite extensive weekly mosquito trapping throughout the state from late May through mid-October, no mosquitoes in Rhode Island tested positive for West Nile Virus or Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

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 during periods of warmer daytime temperatures until the first hard frost and Rhode Islanders should continue to avoid mosquito bites by covering up and wearing mosquito repellent when remaining 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.

The latest birds, which would have been infected several weeks ago, include five crows and a blue jay. The crows include one from Apple House Drive in Cranston picked up on October 10, one from Mark Drive in North Kingstown picked up on October 10, and three from Westerly, including one from Shore Road picked up on October 11, one from Marrioll Avenue picked up on October 12 and one from East Avenue picked up on October 12. The blue jay was picked up from Prosser Trail in Charlestown on October 11.

Two hundred ninety-one birds have been tested for West Nile Virus and EEE since DEM's bird surveillance program began in late May, and results for another 11 are pending. Two hundred fourteen of those birds have tested negative for either disease, 67 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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