Public Health Officials Warn Of Increased Rates Of Mosquitoes Carrying West Nile Virus

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Health officials across the state have found an increased rate of mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus this summer, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s office announced Thursday.

In the third week of July, 28 cases of the mosquito-borne virus were found — 12 more cases than the average 16 typically reported at that time for the past 12 years, according to the governor’s office. Officials first began seeing a significant increase in early July and the trend has continued as the humid months wear on.

Here are a few tips on how to reduce the risk of attracting mosquitoes that may be carrying the disease.

What is West Nile virus?

The virus is most commonly spread to humans through mosquito bites, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are no vaccines or medications to prevent or treat the virus, the federal agency reported. However, people who are infected usually do not develop symptoms. One in five people infected by the virus develop a fever and other symptoms. About 1 in every 150 people affected develop a serious illness. On rare occasions, the illness turns deadly.

Has anyone been affected by West Nile virus?

Not this season. No humans or horses have been affected by West Nile virus-related illnesses yet this summer, officials said. Since 2000, 134 cases of the virus have been diagnosed in Connecticut residents. Three people have died from the virus in the 18-year span.

How can I avoid being infected with the virus?

The best way to avoid the virus is to take preventative measures to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, health officials said. Residents are encouraged to use mosquito repellent with an adequate-level of DEET chemical content and keep skin covered. Wearing socks and shoes can decrease the chance of being bitten and mosquito netting can deter the insects. DEEP recommended that residents get rid of still water in and around their home.

How do I get rid of still water that may attract mosquitoes?

Chlorinating and cleaning pool water helps cut down on the number of lingering mosquitoes. Containers that could trap water, such as ceramic pots, wading pools, bird baths and wheelbarrows can be turned over when not in use to keep water from collecting, the governor’s office recommended.

Which areas in Connecticut are affected by West Nile virus?

So far, mosquitoes carrying the virus have been found in 19 different towns and cities. Those municipalities are: Bethany, Bridgeport, Darien, East Haven, Easton, Franklin, Greenwich, Hartford, Madison, Manchester, Meriden, New Canaan, New Haven, Stamford, Stratford, Waterbury, Waterford, West Haven, and Weston.

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