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Saturday, August 5, 2023

Year's first finding of West Nile Virus in RI in Westerly

It's that time again

By Kevin G. Andrade, Rhode Island Current

State officials on Friday said a mosquito trap in Westerly has captured the first confirmed positive sample of West Nile Virus (WNV). 

The sample was one of 199 collected from 36 traps, which were set on July 24. 

Tests are conducted weekly from June through September by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and Rhode Island Department of Health (DOH). 

The positive sample was not unexpected as mosquito-borne diseases become more prevalent in southern New England as the summer progresses. The first detection of WNV in Rhode Island each year typically occurs in early August.

WNV is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the continental United States and is much more prevalent than Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). 

Most people infected with WNV do not feel sick. It can lead to a fever in about one of every five people infected. 

Severe cases can lead to other symptoms, including abdominal pain, rash, diarrhea, vomiting, muscle aches, loss of appetite, and more. Only one of every 150 people infected can tend to develop severe symptoms or die from the illness. 

Massachusetts authorities have reported 21 samples containing WNV, and Connecticut has reported three as of Aug. 4. No samples of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) have been found in the three states.

EEE, though much rarer, has a higher fatality rate, with 19 deaths reported nationally in 2019 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

There was only one reported case, which led to hospitalization, in 2022. Though most infected do not develop symptoms, symptoms do include fever, chills, body aches, joint pain, vomiting, seizures, diarrhea, and a coma.

EEE, which can lead to brain swelling, is known to cause meningitis, according to the CDC. 

People are encouraged to visit for additional mosquito prevention tips, videos, and local data. 



Rhode Island Current is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Rhode Island Current maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Janine L. Weisman for questions: Follow Rhode Island Current on Facebook and Twitter.