The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) is reminding all Rhode Islanders to take precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites after the Massachusetts Department of Health announced that numerous Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE)-positive mosquito samples were found in that state. Massachusetts has announced that aerial spraying for mosquitoes will take place in 21 cities and towns there on Friday, July 20, and Saturday, July 21, including nearby Rehoboth.
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) tests mosquito pools statewide in Rhode Island for EEE and West Nile Virus (WNV) each week. DEM reports that the state today received its first positive result for West Nile Virus from a sample pool in Westerly.
No positive EEE results have been reported in Rhode Island at this time.
"We typically see sporadic positive results for WNV in mosquitoes in Rhode Island and occasionally see positive results for EEE in mosquitoes as well," said Michael Fine, MD, director of HEALTH. "Although Rhode Island's test results do not indicate the presence of EEE or significant WNV in mosquitoes at this time, it is important that all Rhode Islanders make every effort to protect themselves from mosquito bites."
To best protect against mosquito bites, Rhode Islanders are advised to:
- Minimize outdoor activities during peak mosquito time (typically dusk to dawn)
- Use mosquito repellent with DEET during outdoor activity, particularly during evening hours
- Dress in long pants, long-sleeve shirts, and socks during outdoor evening activities
- Use mosquito netting on baby carriages or play yards when your baby is outdoors - Repair holes in screens, and fix any loose screens. Be sure all open windows are screened.
- Remove standing water around your yard and house by emptying planters, wading pools, trash and recycling bins, and other places where water might accumulate to reduce mosquito breeding
WNV is typically a mild illness in humans, characterized by flu-like symptoms. EEE is a rare, but serious disease characterized by fever, headache, drowsiness, convulsions and, in serious cases, coma.