PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Rhode Island resident who frequently travels to Massachusetts has tested positive for West Nile virus, becoming the state’s first human case since 2018, according to the R.I. Department of Health.
The Health Department said the man, a 50-year-old Providence County resident, began experiencing symptoms of the illness four weeks ago and has since been hospitalized.
So far this year, Massachusetts has reported eight human cases of West Nile virus, with the most recent being reported Thursday afternoon. The first human case was reported by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health back in September, and since then, 27 communities have been deemed high risk.
“Although we’re nearing the end of mosquito season in Rhode Island, the risk is still high because mosquito-borne diseases have had the opportunity to become more prevalent in the mosquito population throughout the summer,” R.I. Department of Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said.
The risk for contracting West Nile virus will remain until the first hard frost.
“Mosquitoes breed in water, so you should get rid of anything around your house and yard that collects water, such as tires, planters, and old trash cans or recycling bins,” Alexander-Scott said. “You should also wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when you are outside, especially at sunrise and sunset. A few simple precautions can help you stay healthy and safe when you are outdoors spending quality time with family and friends.”
The Health Department said so far this year, five mosquito samples have tested positive for West Nile virus.
No human cases of eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) have been reported in either state.