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Mosquito Response Protocol

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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 27, 2007
Contact: Gail Mastrati 222-4700 ext. 2402
Stephanie Powell 222-4700 ext. 4418

Test Results "Not Unexpected" but Serve as Reminder for Public to Protect Themselves Against Mosquito Bites

PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management announces that a mosquito pool, or sample taken from the southern part of East Providence adjacent to the Seekonk border has tested positive for West Nile Virus. This is the first confirmed indication 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 result came from mosquitoes trapped by DEM staff during the week of August 21 and tested at the RI Department of Health (HEALTH) laboratory. The results were confirmed this afternoon. As a result, DEM will be setting extra mosquito traps in the vicinity where the positive sample was found. Test results from an additional 75 mosquito pools trapped during the week of August 21 are pending. 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.

"The positive findings are not unexpected," said Alan Gettman, Ph.D., DEM's mosquito abatement coordinator. "We are at the height of the mosquito-borne disease transmission season. 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. 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 RI Department of Health (HEALTH) laboratory. DEM will normally report mosquito test results once a week on a routine basis, with additional reports as necessary. Test results from mosquitoes trapped this 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,, and click on "Public Health Updates", or go to the HEALTH website,, and click on "E" (Eastern Equine Encephalitis) or "W" ((West Nile Virus)) under "Health Topics".


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