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First Positive Findings of EEE Collected In Rhode Island This Year

PROVIDENCE – The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) today announced that mosquito samples collected in Central Falls August 6 produced the state’s first positive findings of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).

A positive finding for a mosquito-borne disease does not mean anyone has contracted the disease, but it does highlight the need to take precautions. People have the most important role to play in protecting themselves and their loved ones from being bitten by mosquitoes. Using repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants, and minimizing outdoor time from dusk to dawn – peak biting times for many mosquitoes – all are excellent precautions.

A total of 28 traps were set across Rhode Island on August 5. The traps yielded 147 pools, or samples, of mosquitoes collected statewide. Pools collected in Central Falls contained two separate mosquito species that are known to bite mammals and tested positive for EEE. None of the 147 pools came back positive for West Nile Virus (WNV). Test results are pending for traps set yesterday, August 14, and will be included in future announcements. Typically, positive test results trigger additional trapping to assess risk.

To date, there have been no findings of WNV in Rhode Island. The 265 positive EEE mosquito pools in Massachusetts from Bristol and Plymouth counties, coupled with multiple findings of both EEE and WNV in mosquitoes from eastern Connecticut, indicate this clearly is a higher-than-average risk summer for mosquito-borne diseases. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts announced August 10 its first human case of EEE. Aerial spraying began in the commonwealth last week. Mosquito-borne virus isolations are more prevalent during late summer and early fall. DEM traps mosquitoes and the RIDOH State Health Laboratories test them weekly. DEM issues advisories on test results from late June through September, with additional reports as needed.

There are measures that all Rhode Islanders should take to protect themselves from mosquito bites, and to help minimize mosquito breeding.

Protect yourself

• Put screens on windows and doors. Fix screens that are loose or have holes. • At sunrise and sundown (when mosquitoes that carry EEE are most active), minimize outside activities. If you must be outside, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants and use bug spray. • Use EPA-approved bug spray with one of the following active ingredients: DEET (20-30% strength); picaridin, IR3535; and oil of lemon eucalyptus or paramenthane. Always read the label and follow all directions and precautions. • Do not use bug spray with DEET on infants under two months of age. Children should be careful not to rub their eyes after bug spray has been applied on their skin. Wash children’s hands with soap and water to remove any bug spray when they return indoors. • Put mosquito netting over playpens and baby carriages.

Get rid of mosquito breeding grounds

• Get rid of anything around your house and yard that collects water. Just one cup of water can produce hundreds of mosquitoes; an unused tire containing water can produce thousands of mosquitoes. • Clean your gutters and down spouts so that they can drain properly. • Remove any water from unused swimming pools, wading pools, boats, planters, trash and recycling bins, tires, and anything else that collects water, and cover them. • Remove or treat any shallow water that can accumulate on top of a pool cover. Larvicide treatments, such as Mosquito Dunks can be applied to kill immature mosquitoes. This environmentally-friendly product is available at many hardware and garden stores and on-line. • Change the water in birdbaths at least two times a week and rinse out birdbaths once a week.

Visit http://www.health.ri.gov/mosquito for additional mosquito prevention tips, videos, and local data. DEM and RIDOH also remind Rhode Islanders to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites when traveling to Zika-affected countries. Pregnant women and women who are considering becoming pregnant should not travel to countries with active transmission of Zika. For more information about DEM divisions and programs, visit www.dem.ri.gov.