Mosquitoes trapped late last month in West Haven have tested positive for West Nile virus, according to state experts, who said it is the first time this year the virus has been found in Connecticut mosquitoes.
Researchers at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station routinely find mosquitoes beginning to test positive for West Nile virus in “late June to mid-July,” according to Dr. Philip Armstrong, a medical entomologist at the experiment station. “The West Nile virus season has begun,” he said.
West Nile infected mosquitoes were first detected in Connecticut in 1999 and the mosquito-borne virus has been identified in this state every year since then.
In 2016, the experiment station’s scientists trapped and tested more than 170,000 mosquitoes and found the West Nile virus in mosquitoes in 20 communities in four counties: Fairfield, New Haven, Hartford, and New London Counties.
Armstrong said the West Nile season normally lasts “from now through September” and said state experts “anticipate further build-up of the virus” until the season ends with the onset of cold autumn weather.
“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,” said Theodore Andreadis, director of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.
Most people who become infected with West Nile virus “don’t develop signs or symptoms or have only minor ones, such as fever and mild headache,” according to Mayo Clinic experts. “However, some people develop a life-threatening illness that includes inflammation of the spinal cord or brain,” according to the clinic’s web page on the disease.
There have been 131 human cases of West Nile virus diagnosed in Connecticut since 2000, according to this state’s experts, and three fatalities.