Rhode Island Reports First Human Case Of West Nile Virus

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Today, the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) confirmed the state’s first human case of West Nile Virus (WNV) in 2008. This case of WNV occurred in an immunocompromised patient who lives and works in Rhode Island and is currently being treated.

“This is an important reminder that everyone, especially the elderly, young children and those who are immunocompromised, should continue to take precautions to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes that can cause illnesses such as West Nile Virus,” said Director of Health David R. Gifford, MD, MPH. “We know that West Nile Virus is established in Rhode Island’s mosquito population and that is why we stress the importance of personal protective measures.


In particular, people should avoid outside activity at dawn and dusk, use bug spray with DEET, cover strollers and playpens with mosquito netting and repair holes in windows and screens. Everyone should continue to take these precautions until the first heavy frost”

Most people who are infected with the West Nile virus will not have any type of illness. People who do develop symptoms do so four to six weeks after exposure to an infected mosquito. Symptoms include fever, headache and body aches, swollen lymph glands or a rash on the stomach. Symptoms of severe infection (West Nile encephalitis or meningitis) include headache, high fever, stiff neck, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, and paralysis.

For the elderly, young children and people with weakened immune systems, West Nile Virus can be very serious, and in some cases, fatal. In 2008, there have been more than 300 cases of human WNV in the United States.