Mosquitoes test positive for West Nile Virus, precautions urged
The State of Connecticut Mosquito Management Program (MMP) announced last week that mosquitoes trapped in West Haven on June 29 tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV).
These results represent the first WNV positive mosquitoes identified in the state by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) this year.
Connecticut residents are reminded to protect themselves from mosquito bites and mosquito-borne diseases.
“The West Nile virus season has begun,” said Dr. Philip Armstrong, Medical Entomologist at the CAES. “Late-June to mid-July is when we typically first detect WNV infection in mosquitoes and we anticipate further build-up of the virus from now through September."
"This is a reminder for residents to protect themselves from mosquito bites." said Dr. Theodore Andreadis, Director of the CAES. "We encourage everyone to take simple measures such as wearing mosquito repellent and covering bare skin, especially during dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active."
Symptoms of West Nile Virus generally occur three to 14 days following the bite of an infected mosquito, and range from fever, headache, body aches, nausea and less frequently skin rash and swollen nodes to severe headache, high fever, stiff neck, disorientation, muscle weakness, coma, or death.
People over 50 are more likely to become ill and develop serious symptoms when infected. In such cases, West Nile virus can cause serious disease that affects the nervous system.
To reduce the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes, residents should:
- Minimize time spent outdoors between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
- Be sure door and window screens are tight-fitting and in good repair.
- Wear shoes, socks, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors for long periods of time, or when mosquitoes are more active. Clothing should be light colored and made of tightly woven materials that keep mosquitoes away from the skin.
- Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in an unscreened structure and to protect small babies when outdoors.
- Consider the use of mosquito repellent, according to directions, when it is necessary to be outdoors.
West Nile Virus has been detected in the state every year since 1999.
During 2016, CAES trapped and tested over 170,000 mosquitoes and identified WNV-positive mosquitoes collected at trap sites in 20 towns in four counties (Fairfield, Hartford, New Haven and New London) collected July 6 to September 28.
In addition, one Connecticut resident was diagnosed and hospitalized with encephalitis due to WNV infection. Since 2000, 131 human cases of WNV have been diagnosed in Connecticut residents, including three fatalities.
The CAES maintains a network of 91 mosquito-trapping stations in 72 municipalities throughout the state. CAES begins mosquito trapping and testing in June and continues into October. Positive findings are reported to local health departments and on the CAES website.
For information on WNV and other mosquito-borne diseases, what can be done to prevent getting bitten by mosquitoes, the latest mosquito test results and human infections, visit the Connecticut Mosquito Management Program website.