First RI Mosquito Report of 2023: No West Nile Virus (WNV) or EEE Findings; State Reminds Public to Fight the Bite During National Mosquito Control Awareness Week

Published on Friday, June 23, 2023

PROVIDENCE, RI – The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) today announced that the first set of mosquito samples of the 2023 season tested by the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) State Health Laboratories has confirmed no positive isolations (findings) of West Nile Virus (WNV) or Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). These results are from the 101 pools (samples) collected from 26 traps set statewide on June 5 and 12. To date, neither Connecticut nor Massachusetts has reported any EEE or WNV findings.

WNV is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the continental United States and is much more prevalent than EEE. Cases of WNV occur during mosquito season, which starts in the summer and continues through fall. There are no vaccines to prevent or medications to treat WNV in people. Fortunately, most people infected with WNV do not feel sick. About one in five people who are infected develops a fever and other symptoms. About one out of 150 infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness. DEM and RIDOH advise Rhode Islanders to reduce their exposure to mosquitoes until the first hard frost. (A hard frost is when the air and the ground freeze below 32°F for three hours or below 28°F for two hours.)

During the 2022 testing season, one EEE detection was made: from a mosquito sample from a trap set in South Kingstown on Aug. 9. Three mosquito samples tested positive for WNV detections during the season: two from Westerly traps set on Aug. 9 and Aug. 23 and one from a trap set in North Kingstown on Sept. 7. During the 2022 season, there was one human case of WNV involving a Providence County resident in their 70s that was reported on Sept. 26 and two human cases of Jamestown Canyon Virus, one involving a Washington County resident in their 50s reported on Aug. 1.

National Mosquito Control Awareness Week, taking place June 18-24 this year, is an annual campaign developed by the American Mosquito Control Association that sheds light on the critical importance of managing mosquitoes in local communities and reducing the prevalence of locally transmitted mosquito-borne diseases. Local communities voluntarily participate with mosquito control through DEM’s larvicide distribution program, which provides municipalities with a limited free supply of mosquito larvicide briquettes that release environmentally-benign bacteria over a 90-day period in underground stormwater catchment basins that are prime breeding areas of mosquitoes, requiring only one application per season.

Residents can participate in mosquito control by removing backyard larval habitat. The Asian Tiger Mosquito has become prevalent in Rhode Island urban environments, and it is expected to be common again this season. It is notable as a daytime biter encountered in shaded backyards. It has a striking black and white pattern evident to the naked eye. It develops from eggs laid in artificial containers, so residents are urged to remove standing water from containers such as buckets, pots, wheelbarrows, boats, and pools. Clogged rain gutters and puddles formed on tarps also can support the larvae of this species. The Asian Tiger Mosquito is known to transmit several diseases, including WNV.

Personal protection is the first line of defense against mosquitoes that may carry WNV, EEE, or other diseases – and the most effective way to avoid infection. The following precautions are advised.

Protect yourself

  • Put screens on windows and doors. Fix screens that are loose or have holes.
  • At sunrise and sundown (when mosquitoes that carry EEE are most active), consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning. 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 paramenthane. 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 childrens’ hands with soap and water to remove any bug spray when they return indoors.
  • Put mosquito netting over playpens and baby carriages.

Remove mosquito breeding grounds

  • Remove items around your house and yard that collect 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 downspouts 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.
  • Remove or treat any shallow water that can accumulate on top of a pool cover. Larvicide treatments, such as Mosquito Dunks can be applied to kill immature mosquitoes. This environmentally friendly product is available at many hardware and garden stores and online.
  • Clean and change water in birdbaths at least once a week.

Best practices for horse owners

Horses are particularly susceptible to WNV and EEE. Horse owners are advised to vaccinate their animals early in the season and practice the following:

  • Remove or cover areas where standing water can collect.
  • Avoid putting animals outside at dawn, dusk, or during the night when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Insect-proof facilities where possible and use approved repellents frequently.
  • Monitor animals for symptoms of fever and/or neurological signs (such as stumbling, moodiness, loss of appetite) and report all suspicious cases to a veterinarian immediately. If you are unsure if your horse is properly vaccinated, you should consult with your veterinarian.

Visit for additional mosquito prevention tips, videos, and local data. Mosquitoes are trapped weekly by DEM and tested at the RIDOH State Health Laboratories. DEM issues advisories on test results from June through September, with additional reports as necessary. Typically, positive test results trigger additional trapping to assess risk. 

For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit Follow DEM on Facebook, Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM), or Instagram (@rhodeisland.dem) for timely updates.