PROVIDENCE, R.I (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) reported a human case of West Nile virus for the first time this year.
The health department said a person in their 70s from Providence County contracted the virus and has been hospitalized after starting to experience symptoms nearly three weeks ago.
Symptoms of West Nile virus include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, swollen lymph glands and skin rash. The health department said while some people infected with West Nile experience no symptoms, others will have symptoms that last for several days or weeks.
West Nile virus was detected in Rhode Island for the first time this year last month, when a mosquito sample collected in South Kingstown tested positive.
No human cases of Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) have been reported this year, though the virus was detected in a mosquito sample from South Kingstown last month.
Both West Nile virus and EEE become more prevalent as the season progresses, which is why the DEM is urging Rhode Islanders to take the proper precautions to prevent mosquito bites.
“A few simple precautions can help you stay healthy and safe when you are outdoors spending quality time with family and friends,” Rhode Island Interim Health Director Utpala Bandy said.
Rhode Islanders should take the following steps to prevent mosquito bites:
- Put screens on windows and doors
- Avoid being outside during sunrise and sunset
- Use EPA-approved bug spray
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
- Remove items that collect water from around your house
- Clean gutters and downspouts for proper drainage
- Remove unused water from pools, trash bins or anything that collects water
The risk of contracting mosquito-borne illnesses lasts until the first hard frost, which usually arrives in late October.
So far this year, Massachusetts has confirmed four human cases of West Nile, while Connecticut has reported one.