Health District Urges West Nile Precautions

West Nile Virus has been identified in mosquitoes trapped in Westport, and Aspetuck Health District Director Mark A.R. Cooper says “it is only a matter of time” before such mosquitoes find their way to Weston.

“There is no need to panic,” says Mr. Cooper. “Just take precautions to prevent mosquito bites.”

He adds that the mosquitoes testing positive were Culex Restuans mosquitoes, which primarily feed on bird hosts. But, given the opportunity, they will feed on humans. Mosquitoes need to make a meal of blood to reproduce.

The Health District recommends these precautions:

  • Eliminate objects outdoors that can hold water and become a breeding place for mosquitoes.
  • Clean house gutters that may be retaining water.
  • Empty wading pools and bird baths every few days.
  • Chlorinate swimming pools regularly.
  • Make sure covers on grills, boats, pools, and other equipment do not collect water.
  • Make sure door and window screens fit tightly and are in good repair.

To avoid mosquito bites when outdoors:

  • Be particularly careful at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Wear shoes, socks, long pants, and long-sleeved shirts. Clothing material should be tightly woven.
  • Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors.
  • Consider the use of CDC-recommended mosquito repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, IR3535, or 2-undecanone. Apply according to directions.
  • When using DEET, use the lowest concentration effective for the time spent outdoors. For example, six percent lasts approximately two hours; 20 percent lasts four hours. Wash treated skin when returning indoors. Do not apply under clothing, to wounds or irritated skin, to the hands of children, or to infants less than two months old.

Mr. Cooper says no human cases of West Nile Virus have been reported so far in Connecticut, but “there is growing concern” that the number of infected mosquitoes will increase, which raises the potential for human exposure.

The mosquito season ends with the first frost, which is some time away. Current weather conditions are favorable for mosquitoes, and Mr. Cooper says the numbers of infected mosquitoes are rising faster and higher than in previous years.

More information about West Nile Virus can be found at the Aspetuck Health District’s website and at the Connecticut Mosquito Management Program website.

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