Rhode Island Issues West Nile Virus Prevention Advisory

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The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) is issuing an advisory to remind people of precautions to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses. In Rhode Island, the first mosquitoes have tested positive for the West Nile Virus (WNV). “We expect to find mosquitoes who test positive for West Nile Virus at this time every year,” said Director of Health David R. Gifford, MD, MPH, “This test result is a reminder to all Rhode Islanders about the proper precautions to avoid mosquito bites that can cause illnesses such as WNV.”

Protect yourself:

* Use bug spray with DEET (N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide). Make sure that bug spray does not have more than 30% DEET. Do not use bug spray with DEET on infants.

* At sunrise and sundown (when mosquitoes are most active), minimize outside activities. If you must be outside, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants and use bug spray.

* Put mosquito netting over playpens and baby carriages.

* Put screens on windows and doors. Fix screens that have holes.

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Get rid of mosquito breeding grounds:

* Get rid of anything around your house and yard that collects water. One cup of water can produce thousands of mosquitoes!

* Change the water in birdbaths at least two times a week.

* Clean your gutters so that they can drain properly.

* Remove any water from unused swimming pools or boats and cover them.

* Help your neighbors, friends and family do the same things.

Most people who are infected with the West Nile virus will not have any type of illness. People who do develop symptoms may have 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 342 cases of human WNV in the United States.

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