Rhode Island health officials confirmed the first human case of West Nile Virus (WNV) in Rhode Island in 2017.

Image/ National Atlas of the United States
Image/ National Atlas of the United States

The 66-year-old individual from Providence County began to experience symptoms of WNV on September 15, 2017. Common symptoms of WNV include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash. Although many people who are infected with WNV show no symptoms, symptoms last for some people for several days or several weeks.

There were two human cases of WNV in Rhode Island in 2016.

“We are currently in the height of mosquito season in Rhode Island,” said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. “The best way to prevent West Nile Virus and other mosquito-borne diseases is to prevent mosquitoes from breeding and to avoid mosquito bites. Mosquitoes breed in water, so you should get rid of anything around your house and yard that collects water, such as tires, planters, and old trash cans or recycling bins. You should also wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when you are outside, especially at sunrise and sunset. A few simple precautions can help you stay healthy and safe when you are outdoors spending quality time with family and friends.”

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Additional mosquito-prevention measures:

• Put screens on windows and doors. Fix screens that are loose or have holes.

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

• Use EPA-approved bug spray with one of the following active ingredients: DEET (20-30% strength); picaridin, IR3535; and oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthan-diol. Always read the label and follow all directions and precautions.

• Do not use bug spray with DEET on infants under two months of age. Children should be careful not to rub their eyes after bug spray has been applied on their skin. Wash children’s hands with soap and water to remove any bug spray when they return indoors.

• Put mosquito netting over playpens and baby carriages.

• Get rid of mosquito breeding grounds

• Get rid of anything around your house and yard that collects water. Just one cup of water can produce hundreds of mosquitoes; an unused tire containing water can produce thousands of mosquitoes.

• Clean your gutters and down spouts so that they can drain properly.

• Remove any water from unused swimming pools, wading pools, boats, planters, trash and recycling bins, tires, and anything else that collects water, and cover them.

• Change the water in birdbaths at least two times a week, and rinse out birdbaths once a week.

As of September 19, 2017, a total of 47 states and the District of Columbia have reported West Nile virus infections in people, birds, or mosquitoes in 2017. Overall, 875 cases of West Nile virus disease in people have been reported to CDC. Of these, 537 (61%) were classified as neuroinvasive disease (such as meningitis or encephalitis) and 338 (39%) were classified as non-neuroinvasive disease.