FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- A Fairfield County resident has tested positive for West Nile virus infection, the first human case in Connecticut this season, the State Mosquito Management Program announced this week.
The Stratford resident, between the age of 60 and 69 years old, became ill during the last week of July and reported being bitten by mosquitoes before the onset of the illness. The virus was characterized principally by joint and muscle pain, and diarrhea. Laboratory tests confirmed the presence of antibodies to West Nile virus. The person was not hospitalized and is recovering.
"If you’re planning to spend time outdoors this Labor Day weekend, it’s very important that you take steps to protect yourself from mosquito bites,” said Department of Public Health veterinarian Dr. Randall Nelson. “Using insect repellent, covering bare skin and avoiding being outdoors during the hours of dusk and dawn are effective ways to help keep you from being bitten.”
Since June 27, the state has identified West Nile virus-positive mosquitoes at trap sites in 16 towns: Branford, Bridgeport, East Haven, Fairfield, Glastonbury, Greenwich, Groton, Manchester, New Haven, Norwalk, Plainfield, Stamford, Stratford, Wallingford, Waterford and Westport.
West Nile virus activity varies each year and is difficult to predict. Generally, the greatest risk for transmission to people from infected mosquitoes is from early-August to mid-September. This season, circulation of WNV positive mosquitoes is highest in coastal towns from Greenwich to Branford and in central Connecticut in Glastonbury.
"Although mosquito populations are declining, we continue to find mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus in several areas of the state,” said Dr. Theodore G. Andreadis, chief medical entomologist with the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. “This trend is likely to continue through September with further expansion to more communities.”
Also, mosquitoes with eastern equine encephalitis virus have been identified in the Pachaug State Forest in Voluntown. That has prompted the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to close part of the forest to recreational activities and two camp grounds there.
In addition, ultra-low volume ground spraying was conducted in the area this week to reduce the number of mosquitoes. Mosquitoes collected at trap sites to the south in North Stonington and to the north in Plainfield have tested negative. People in the immediate area surrounding the forest should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites when outdoors.
To monitor the situation, the CAES will continue to trap mosquitoes for EEE and WNV; statewide results are available on the CAES website as they become available.
For information on West Nile virus and EEE, including what you can do to prevent getting bitten by mosquitoes, visit the Connecticut Mosquito Management Program website.