Scientists count more ticks than ever in state this year

The University of Rhode Island’s Tick Encounter Resource Center says it’s a record-breaking year for deer ticks in the state.

The Providence Journal reported that researchers at the center have found more ticks than ever in two decades of collecting them across the state. The number of ticks increased 80 percent from 2011 to last year. This year, the center found 13 percent more ticks than the previous record.

Ticks carry Lyme disease and other diseases. About 800 Rhode Islanders get Lyme disease every year, more than the number that is publicly reported.

Health Department Director Michael Fine has himself had Lyme disease three times. He recognized the symptoms, sought treatment and recovered fully each time.

Brown awards $50,000 in grants to three schools

A Brown University fund that supports Providence education has awarded a total of $50,000 in grants to three city schools.

The university said Friday that Inspiring Minds is getting $20,000 for a program at Asa Messer Elementary School that helps students in math and reading. The Urban Collaborative Accelerated Program is getting $20,000 to buy computers and audiovisual equipment. Sophia Academy is getting $10,000 for a program that supports girls in technology.

The grants are through the university’s Fund for the Education of the Children of Providence.

The fund will no longer make awards directly to schools but rather provide scholarships for higher education. The fund earlier this year gave scholarships of $2,500 to 20 graduating high school students in Providence.


West Nile virus detected in more mosquito pools

Vermont health officials say the West Nile virus has been found in two more pools of mosquitoes collected in Addison County.

Erica Berl, a state infectious disease epidemiologist, said the pools were collected July 26 in Whiting and Leicester. Last month, a pool of mosquitoes collected in Leicester tested positive for the virus.

The Rutland Herald reported that Berl said 227 pools of mosquitoes have been collected and tested so far this summer and 80 more are in the lab for testing.

Symptoms of the West Nile virus are often mild, but can include high fever, muscle aches, headache and fatigue. Three people became sick with the disease last year.


Former student who wore ammo belt gets probation

A former Fitchburg State University student who was arrested on campus the day after he was expelled while wearing a military-style ammunition belt has been sentenced to a year of probation.

Andrew Despres of New Bedford was arrested in December the day after he was expelled for other infractions, then charged with illegal possession of a belt of semiautomatic-rifle ammunition, even though the shell casings had no bullets in them and were inert.

The Telegram & Gazette reported that the 20-year-old Despres pleaded guilty on Thursday to the trespassing charge and the ammunition charge was dismissed.

His lawyer and his mother said the ammo belt was simply a fashion statement bought online for $20 and he had worn it numerous times before without problems.


Woman charged with fraud for One Fund Boston claim

A New Jersey woman has been charged with trying to defraud a charity that aids the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.

Authorities say 44-year-old Iris Gamble of Linden submitted a claim with the One Fund Boston, saying she was injured during the April 15 blasts and wanted money from the fund. Gamble said she was treated for injuries at a Newark, N.J., hospital.

But irregularities in her paperwork led officials to believe the claim was a fake. Union County Prosecutor Grace Park said Friday that Gamble wasn’t in Boston the day of the bombings.

Gamble is charged with attempted theft by deception, fraud and creating fraudulent documents.


Chief accused of extorting $4,000 toy fund donation

Lee Police Chief Joseph Buffis is accused of extorting a $4,000 donation from two people who were facing prostitution-related charges.

Federal prosecutors said Buffis used his position to extort the donation in February 2012 to the Edward J. Lalilberte Toy Fund, which he controlled.

Authorities allege he quickly withdrew almost all the money, putting it in a personal account he controlled with his wife and using it for personal expenses.

Authorities said Buffis later lied to investigators about use of the funds.


Hepatitis A vaccinations offered again Saturday

People who may have been exposed to hepatitis A by a bartender in Hopkinton, N.H., are getting their first opportunity to get vaccinated.

The state public health department held the first of two vaccination clinics Friday at Hopkinton High School.

The clinic also will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Anyone who ate or drank at the American Legion or Covered Bridge Restaurant in the Hopkinton village of Contoocook between July 20 and Aug. 3 is being asked to get vaccinated.

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that can be spread when an infected person handles food without appropriate hand hygiene. Vaccinations given soon after exposure can prevent the illness from developing.

“This is a low-risk exposure, but we want to be able to offer this to people, so we prevent any additional illnesses,” Christine Adamski of the public health department told WMUR-TV on Friday.

Officials estimate that the American Legion and the restaurant had between 600 and 1,000 patrons during the time frame in question.

Health officials said most children should already be vaccinated against hepatitis A, and that anyone who has been vaccinated in the past does not need to do so again.

—From news service reports

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