PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Mosquito samples in Rhode Island have tested positive for Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile virus, the R.I. Department of Environmental Management (DEM) reported Wednesday.
The EEE-positive sample of mosquitoes was collected in South Kingstown on Aug. 9, according to the DEM, while the West Nile virus-positive sample was collected the same day in Westerly.
The DEM says EEE is very serious, even though it’s extremely rare in humans. About 30% of people who test positive die, and many survivors have lasting neurological problems.
West Nile virus is more widespread than EEE.
Both become more prevalent as the season progresses, so the DEM and R.I. Department of Health advise people to limit their exposure to mosquitos until the first hard frost.
Rhode Islanders are urged to take steps to prevent being bitten:
- 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, tires, recycling/trash bins, or anything that collects water
So far this year, neither Massachusetts nor Connecticut have reported EEE findings.
The DEM says there have been no human or animal cases of West Nile virus or EEE this year in Rhode Island, Massachusetts or Connecticut.