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News Release
RI Department of Environmental Management
235 Promenade Street, Providence, RI 02908
(401) 222-2771 TDD/(401) 222-4462

For Release: August 21, 2006
Contact: Gail Mastrati 222-4700 ext. 2402
Stephanie Powell 222-4700 ext. 4418

DEM ANNOUNCES THAT TWO MOSQUITO SAMPLES TEST POSITIVE FOR WEST NILE VIRUS
Test Results "Not Unexpected" but Serve as Reminder forPublic to Protect Themselves Against Mosquito Bites

PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management announces that two mosquito pools, or samples one from central Middletown and one from the Carolina Management Area of Richmond have tested positive for West Nile Virus. They are the first confirmed indications of mosquito-borne disease in Rhode Island this year, although West Nile Virus is well established throughout the state, and, indeed, throughout the country.

The positive results came from mosquitoes trapped by DEM staff during the week of August 8 and tested at the RI Department of Health (HEALTH) laboratory. The results were confirmed over the weekend. As a result, DEM will be setting extra mosquito traps in Middletown and Richmond.

Although many mosquito species bite only birds, the Culex species that tested positive in both cases for West Nile Virus also bites mammals, including humans.

Alan Gettman, Ph.D., DEM's mosquito abatement coordinator, said the positive findings are not unexpected. "We are at the height of the mosquito-borne disease transmission season," he said. "The possibility of disease transmission is increasingly likely. The positive test results should send a strong reminder to all Rhode Islanders that it is important to routinely protect themselves against mosquito bites now and throughout the rest of the mosquito season."

Personal protection is 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.

Test results from an additional 105 mosquito pools from 40 traps set during the week of August 8 have been confirmed negative, and results from an additional 12 pools are pending. Test results from eight mosquito pools pending from the week of July 31 have also been confirmed negative.

This year, to date, two mosquito pools have tested positive for West Nile Virus and none have tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis in Rhode Island; however, EEE has been found in mosquitoes in several nearby southern Massachusetts communities and two Massachusetts residents have contracted the disease. People are urged to avoid mosquito bites by using screens on windows and doors, covering up at dawn and dusk, and putting mosquito netting over playpens and baby carriages when they are outside. Also, use mosquito repellent, but with no more than 30 percent DEET. Do not use repellent on infants. Eliminate mosquito breeding grounds from yards by removing anything that holds standing water, such as old tires, buckets, junk and debris, and clean gutters so that they drain properly.

Mosquitoes are trapped every week statewide by DEM staff and tested at the HEALTH laboratory. DEM will normally report mosquito test results once a week on a routine basis, generally by Wednesday, with additional reports as necessary. Test results from mosquitoes trapped last week will be included in next week's announcement, as will routine results from pending tests. Positive mosquito test results will generally trigger additional trapping to assess risk.

For online information about mosquito-borne diseases, go to DEM's website, www.state.dem.ri.gov, and click on "Public Health Updates", or go to the HEALTH website, www.health.ri.gov, and click on "E" (Eastern Equine Encephalitis) or "W" ((West Nile Virus)) under "Health Topics".

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