NEW: West Nile Virus Surfaces in West Kingstown, RI

Thursday, August 14, 2014

 

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Rhode Island residents are encouraged to protect themselves after the state’s health and environmental officials have confirmed the first positive finding of West Nile Virus from a mosquito pool in West Kingstown, Rhode Island.

A sample of 18 mosquitos collected on August 4th, 2014 from the Great Swamp area of West Kingstown has tested positive for West Nile Virus. The mosquito species that was tested positive is one that can bite humans.

The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) encourages that residents protect themselves from mosquito-borne disease. According to the state officials, personal protection is the first line of defense against these mosquitos and additionally is the most effective way of avoiding infection.

Test results on the remaining 150 pools of mosquitos collected on August 4th are still pending in the State Health Laboratories.

First This Year

This finding marks the first positive West Nile Virus sample identified in Rhode Island this season. A positive finding of Jamestown Canyon Virus was identified and reported last week.

Additionally, no mosquitos have tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis this season. There have also been no reported human cases in 2014 regarding West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or Jamestown Canyon Virus in Rhode Island.

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West Nile Virus is most commonly spread by infected mosquitoes and can cause febrile illness, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord). More severe symptoms can include: high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness, and paralysis. Milder symptoms may include body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. Symptoms can last just a few days or up to several weeks.

Protecting from West Nile

These mosquito pools are not unexpected at this time of the year. State officials are encouraging that extra care should be taken by all residents to protect from mosquitos. Extra care includes:

  • Remove all standing water from around houses by emptying planters, wading pools, trash and recycling bins to reduce mosquito breeding. Just one cup of standing water can produce hundreds of mosquitos.

  • Be sure all open windows are properly screened to prevent mosquitos from entering the house.

  • Dress for protection by wearing long pants and long-sleeved shorts during outdoor evening activities.

  • Use bug spray with no more than 30-percent DEET during outdoor activities particularly at dusk and evening hours.

  • Time activities for maximum protection; mosquitos are most active during the dusk and evening hours. 

 

Related Slideshow: The History of Disease Outbreaks in New England

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Smallpox has been eradicated from the United States for over 60 years.

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The Smallpox outbreak in Boston incited great debate about the use of inoculation in the United States, a practice that is obviously observed today.

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Tuberculosis 1800-1922

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Influenza 1918

A worldwide pandemic that struck during World War 1, the "Spanish Flu" caused mass destruction in the United States and abroad.

20 million people across the globe are estimated to have died from the flu pandemic, with 675,000 Americans among the death toll.

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The Asian Flu is caused by the same virus that causes bird flu and swine flu.

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Holy Cross Hepatitis 1969

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90 out of 97 players on the team had elevated levels of a liver enzyme, and 30 of those 90 players showed symptoms of Hepatitis-A.

Dr. Leonard Morse, who went on to become the Commissioner of Public Health in Worcester, helped determine the cause of the sickness- a contaminated drinking water supply that only the football players had accessed.

The remainder of the season was canceled (an NCAA first) and the 30 players showing symptoms were quarantined in a single dormitory.

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AIDS Epidemic 1980s

While not documented until 1981, the HIV virus and AIDS continues to be one of the most debilitating diseases alive today in the United States.

Progress has been made over the years, as education about the virus and how to prevent it have brought the world from "AIDS is Preventable" to "AIDS is Treatable."

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NH Hepatitis 2012

30 people were diagnosed with Hepatitis-C in 2012 after a former hospital worker stole syringes and intentionally contaminated them with the disease, of which he was afflicted.

After pleading guilty to charges in New Hampshire, the perpetrator was sentenced to 39 months in jail.

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VT Whooping Cough 2012

Vermont declared a whooping cough epidemic in 2012 after over 500 cases of the disease were reported. 90% of the afflicted were children who had received the not-so-foolproof vaccine.

Whooping cough- also known as Pertussis- is difficult to diagnose initially because it starts with cold-like symptoms and progresses into a life threatening illness.

 
 

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