PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and Department of Health announced Friday that a second mosquito sample from Westerly has tested positive for West Nile virus.
Of the 197 samples collected from statewide traps set July 31, the remaining 196 tested negative for West Nile. All of the samples tested negative for Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE).
West Nile virus has become prevalent in North America over the past few years, with 40 mosquitoes in Massachusetts and 15 in Connecticut testing positive for the disease so far this year. It is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the United States, and there are no medications to treat the virus in humans. About one of every 150 people infected with West Nile will develop a serious illness, according to health officials.
The black-and-white-striped Asian tiger mosquito, which is known to transmit West Nile virus and several other diseases, has been spotted frequently in Rhode Island’s urban environments this summer, the DEM warned.
The departments advise personal protection as the most effective way to stay safe from mosquito-borne illnesses.
They also say horse owners should mosquito-proof their horses’ environments to the fullest extent possible and make sure the animals are fully vaccinated, as horses are particularly susceptible to West Nile virus and EEE.