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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 29, 2006
Contact: Gail Mastrati 222-4700 ext. 2402
Stephanie Powell 222-4700 ext. 4418

DEM: AUGUST 29 WEST NILE/EEE STATUS UPDATE

PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management announces that test results from122 mosquito pools, or samples, from 44 traps set statewide during the week of August 15 that were pending have been confirmed negative for both West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

However, one mosquito pool, or sample, from a trap set during the week of August 21 in Barrington has been confirmed positive for West Nile Virus. The trap was located at the same site west of the Barrington River where three mosquito pools were previously confirmed positive for the disease. Although many mosquito species bite only birds, the Culex species that tested positive in this case for West Nile Virus also bites mammals, including humans.

In addition, a mosquito pool from a trap set in Tiverton during the week of August 21 has been confirmed positive for Highlands J Virus. Highlands J virus is a bird disease, and does not affect humans; however it is an indicator that environmental conditions are appropriate for the transmission of other mosquito-borne viruses. The positive results came from mosquitoes trapped by DEM staff and tested at the RI Department of Health (HEALTH) laboratory. As a result, DEM will be setting extra mosquito traps in selected locations.

DEM notes that it is the height of the mosquito-borne disease transmission season and the possibility of disease transmission is increasingly likely. The positive test results are not unexpected, but 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.

West Nile Virus is well established throughout the state, and, indeed, throughout the country. This year to date, in Rhode Island, six mosquito pools have tested positive for West Nile Virus and none have tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis; however, EEE has been found in mosquitoes in several nearby southern Massachusetts communities and three 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. Pending 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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