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DEM's WNV/EEE Page

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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 24, 2006
Contact: Gail Mastrati 222-4700 ext. 2402
Stephanie Powell 222-4700 ext. 4418

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

PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management announces that three mosquito pools, or samples, from one trap on the west side of the Barrington River in Barrington have tested positive for West Nile Virus.

The positive results came from mosquitoes trapped by DEM staff during the week of August 14 and tested at the RI Department of Health (HEALTH) laboratory. The results were confirmed late yesterday. As a result, DEM will be setting extra mosquito traps in Barrington.

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

The positive findings are not unexpected. West Nile Virus is well established throughout the state, and, indeed, throughout the country.

DEM notes that it is the height of the mosquito-borne disease transmission season and the possibility of disease transmission is increasingly likely. Alan Gettman, Ph.D., DEM's mosquito abatement coordinator, reiterated a point he made earlier in the week: "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 two mosquito pools trapped during the week of August 8 one in Richmond and one in Middletown were confirmed positive over the past weekend and announced on Monday. Test results from 12 mosquito pools pending at that time from the week of August 8 have since been confirmed negative.

This year, to date, five 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. 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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