RI health officials report 2017’s first human case of West Nile virus


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Rhode Island Department of Health has confirmed the first human case of West Nile virus (WNV) in Rhode Island in 2017.

Health officials said the 66-year-old individual from Providence County began to experience symptoms on Sept. 15. Common symptoms of WNV include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash. Although many people who are infected with WNV show no symptoms, symptoms can last for several days or several weeks.

Earlier this month, a mosquito sample from Warren tested positive for West Nile.

“We are currently in the height of mosquito season in Rhode Island,” Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH said.

Alexander-Scott recommends the public take the following precautions to avoid mosquito-borne illnesses.

  • Remove anything around your house and yard that collects water; just one cup of water can produce hundreds of mosquitoes.
  • Clean gutters and downspouts to ensure proper drainage, and repair holes in window screens.
  • 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.
  • Change the water in birdbaths at least two times a week, and rinse out birdbaths once a week.
  • Use EPA-approved bug spray with one of the following active ingredients: DEET (20-30% strength), picaridin, IR3535, and oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol. Do not use bug spray on infants under 1 year of age.
  • Minimize outdoor activity at dawn and at dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Put insect netting over strollers and playpens.
  • Wear long sleeves and long pants whenever possible, particularly if you are outdoors during dawn and dusk.

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