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Thursday, October 5, 2023

R.I. reports first person with West Nile this year

Mosquito season continues until the first hard frost

By Nancy Lavin, Rhode Island Current

A Newport County resident in their 70s is the first person in Rhode Island with a reported case of West Nile virus this year.

The announcement from the Rhode Island Department of Health on Wednesday comes amid an increase in mosquito-borne diseases such as West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in late summer, based on mosquito samples throughout the state.

Massachusetts and Connecticut have also reported three and four human cases, respectively, of West Nile virus this year, according to the health department.

 As of Sept. 29, Rhode Island has reported West Nile virus in 13 mosquito samples, along with EEE in one mosquito sample and a donkey with EEE.

“Mosquito season in Rhode Island is not over,” Interim Director of Health Dr. Utpala Bandy said in a statement. “People need to continue taking prevention measures through the first hard frost.”

Preventive measures include getting rid of anything around their yards that collect standing water; using U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved bug spray and wearing long-sleeve shirts and long pants when outside, especially at sunrise and sunset. 

Meanwhile, a state panel known as the Mosquito-Borne Disease Advisory Group, is still considering mass mosquito control by spraying a low volume of pesticides into the air, a process known as “adulticiding,” according to Michael Healey, a spokesperson for the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Agency. DEM has not used the method since 2019, but it is still an option until the first hard frost of three straight hours below 32 degrees, which kills adult mosquitos, Healey said in an email.

The Rhode Island resident who tested positive for West Nile was not identified beyond their age range and county. They developed symptoms in late August and are recovering, according to the state health department. 

More information about mosquito-borne diseases, including prevention tips and local data, is available at

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