PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — After increasing the amount of mosquito sampling in Rhode Island due to an elevated risk of mosquito-borne illnesses, the Departments of Health and Environmental Management said West Nile virus has been found in the state for the first time this year.
Health officials said mosquitoes trapped in Tiverton tested positive for West Nile virus. In addition, a second mosquito sample from Chapman Swamp in Westerly tested positive for eastern equine encephalitis (EEE).
EEE has also been detected twice this year in Central Falls and late last month, a horse in Westerly tested positive for the virus.
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A West Warwick resident became the first person since 2010 to contract the potentially deadly virus in the state. The diagnosis came a week after a Fairhaven woman died after contracting EEE.
With the threat of mosquito-borne illnesses typically lasting until the first hard frost in mid-October, the health department said it’s ramping up efforts to ensure Rhode Islanders’ safety.
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Since Aug. 26, health officials said they have added 10 new traps in five communities statewide. They’re also expediting the results in an effort to assess the risk of contracting the virus.
The DEM says it usually sets between 25 and 30 traps in Westerly, Charlestown, South Kingstown, North Kingstown, Exeter, Warwick, Cranston, Johnston, Providence, Central Falls, Pawtucket, East Providence, Barrington, Warren, Bristol, Tiverton, Portsmouth, and Newport.
This year, the agency added traps in West Warwick, Burrillville, North Smithfield, Cumberland, and West Greenwich.
Officials also plan to conduct aerial spraying for mosquitoes. They said a spraying schedule will soon be released to the public.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has been spraying for mosquitoes in several communities labeled moderate and critical risks.
The Department of Health also said the recommendation of “smart scheduling” of events will remain in place for the remainder of mosquito season.