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RI HEALTH

West Nile virus detected in R.I.

A Cattail mosquito is held up for inspection at the Maine Medical Center Research Institute in Scarborough, Maine. Cattail mosquitos can transmit Eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile virus to humans.Pat Wellenbach/Associated Press

PROVIDENCE — This year’s first human case of West Nile virus has been detected in a person in Providence County who is currently hospitalized, state health officials said Friday.

The unidentified person is in their 70s and reportedly started experiencing symptoms of the West Nile virus almost three weeks ago, according to Joseph Wendelken, a spokesman for the state health department.

Last year Rhode Island reported two human cases of the virus, which is usually transmitted to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management confirmed two positive findings for West Nile virus in mosquito traps earlier this year.

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Connecticut has confirmed one West Nile virus cases in a human and Massachusetts has confirmed four human cases so far this year.

Common symptoms of the virus include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash.

Many people who are infected with the West Nile virus show no symptoms, but others can experience symptoms for several days or weeks, according to Dr. Utpala Bandy, the interim director of the Rhode Island Department of Health.

“The best way to prevent West Nile Virus and other mosquito-borne diseases is to prevent mosquitoes from breeding and to avoid mosquito bites,” said Bandy in a statement. She recommended that Rhode Islanders wear bug repellant and get rid of anything around their homes that collects water, which is where mosquitoes breed, such as tires, planters, and old trash cans or recycling bins.


Alexa Gagosz can be reached at alexa.gagosz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @alexagagosz and on Instagram @AlexaGagosz.