West Nile Virus found in R.I. mosquito test, first of 2016

A Charlestown resident and a child in Coventry have each been diagnosed with Eastern Equine Encephalitis, the second and third human cases in Rhode Island this year.

The state’s Department of Health and Department of Environmental Management announced the additional cases on Tuesday. The Connecticut Department of Public Health also confirmed a human case was diagnosed in an East Lyme adult this week as well, the first such case in Connecticut this year.

The cases were each confirmed by tests done at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The two people whose diagnoses are being announced today have both been discharged from the hospital and are recovering,” said Joseph Wendelken, spokesman for the Rhode Island Department of Health. “Based on the time of symptom onset, it is believed that both people contracted EEE in late August.”

Of the recent diagnoses, Wendelken said in a press release that the first person was a child younger than 10 years old who lives in Coventry and the second, from Charlestown, was an adult in their 50s. On Sept. 9, a West Warwick resident, who was the first person who was diagnosed with EEE in Rhode Island this year, died as a result of complications related to the condition.

All three people contracted the illness before areas of critical risk for EEE were aerially sprayed with pesticide between Sept. 8 and Sept. 10.

In addition to these human diagnoses, EEE was also confirmed in a deer from Exeter this week.

“This has been a year with significantly elevated EEE activity, and mosquitoes will remain a threat in Rhode Island until our first hard frost, which is still several weeks out,” said Ana Novais, deputy director for the the Department of Health. “Personal mosquito-prevention measures remain everyone’s first defense against EEE.”

According to officials, staff at both DEM and the Department of Health are considering the next steps in EEE response, which could include additional aerial spraying. Broad and targeted notification would be done in advance of any additional aerial spraying.

Parts of Westerly, Hopkinton and Charlestown were part of a first round of spraying in Rhode Island that was conducted earlier this month to target four critical risk areas. That spraying was conducted on Sept. 10.

“Spraying effectively reduces the risk of mosquito-borne disease but if does not eliminate the risk completely,” said Janet Coit, director of the Department of Environmental Management. “Personal protection always is essential to further minimize the risk.”

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