Mosquito Tests Positive For West Nile




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By STEPHEN BUSEMEYER and NICK RONDINONE | The Hartford Courant

busemeyer@courant.com

EAST HAVEN — A mosquito trapped last week tested positive for West Nile virus, the state Department of Public Health said Tuesday.

The mosquito, which was identified by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, was the first of the year to test positive for the virus, DPH said.

“We're having a slow start to the season,” said Ted Andreadis, director of the state's Mosquito Management Program.

"It will begin to increase. It's nothing unusual -- we're not expecting any major uptick" in mosquito activity, he said. "If we get into very warm weather, amplification will speed up a bit."

The state has caught and tested about 144,000 mosquitoes so far this year.

The West Nile virus appeared in only 90 of the 192,172 mosquitoes caught and tested in 2013, according to the mosquito management program's data. That's down from 234 West Nile-positive mosquitoes in 2012, most of which were found in the southwestern part of the state.

But it was the prevalence of Eastern Equine Encephalitis last year that caused most concern.

"We had the first human case ever reported last year," and the infection was fatal, said Andreadis. The person who died had contracted the virus in eastern Connecticut, where the state had noticed a sharp increase in the number of mosquitoes carrying EEE, he said.

That led to the closure of a campground in the area -- a move Andreadis said was necessary to prevent other infections.

"That was a very good move. We are quite certain that we likely prevented any further human involvement," he said.

Different species of mosquitoes carry the viruses. The one that carries West Nile breeds in storm drains and is more common in urban areas, and there are "comparatively low numbers" of that species this year, Andreadis said. The species that carries EEE breeds in swamps, in more rural areas. The weather hasn't had much of an effect this year, he said.

The mosquito management program is "able to detect virus activity before we see animal or human involvement," he said. "When we do detect virus ... it is a significant event, and it's important that the public pay attention and protect themselves from mosquito bites."

West Nile virus can cause mild illness such as fever and headache. In people older than 50, the virus can cause serious illness, including encephalitis or meningitis, according to the Department of Agriculture. The chances of developing illness after being bitten by an infected mosquito are less than 1 in 100.

For more information, see the state's website, here: http://www.ct.gov/mosquito/cwp/view.asp?a=3486&q=415010