FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- Everyone enjoys getting outside more as the days get longer and warmer as summer approaches. But it also means the start of the mosquito season in Fairfield County.
As a result, Connecticut has begun its testing of mosquitoes for the West Nile virus and the Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus, it announced in a press release. Mosquitoes infected with West Nile or EEE transmit the virus by biting humans.
The State of Connecticut Mosquito Management Program is now monitoring mosquitoes for the presence of the viruses. The mosquito trapping and testing program, coordinated by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, began June 2. Test results to date are negative.
The threat is real in Fairfield County. Last year, mosquitoes identified as WNV-positive were found at trap sites in 22 towns, including Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, Norwalk, Stamford, Westport and Wilton. Four Connecticut residents from Stamford, Stratford and Bridgeport were diagnosed with WNV-associated illnesses. There were no fatalities.
The first confirmed human case of eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) in a Connecticut resident also occurred last year. In April, the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that an adult resident of eastern Connecticut who had been hospitalized with encephalitis and died in the fall, was tested positive for EEE after dying.
“While rare, EEE is serious and underscores the importance of taking personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites,” said state Pubic Health Commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen. “The presence of this virus in Connecticut should also remind clinicians to include EEE, along with WNV, among their possible diagnoses so that appropriate tests can be done.”
Mosquitoes testing positive for EEE were found last year in Haddam, Hampton, North Stonington, Plainfield and Voluntown, all in the eastern part of the state.
Last year, the numbers and types of mosquitoes with EEE identified in the Pachaug State Forest in Voluntown prompted the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to temporarily close part of the forest to recreational activities and to conduct ultra-low volume ground spraying to reduce the number of mosquitoes.
Connecticut Mosquito Management program is a collaborative effort involving DEEP, the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) and the Department of Public Health, together with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Pathobiology at the University of Connecticut. These agencies are responsible for monitoring and managing the state’s mosquito population levels to reduce the potential public health threat of mosquito-borne diseases.
The CAES maintains a network of 91 mosquito-trapping stations in 72 municipalities throughout the state.
For information on West Nile virus and EEE, including what you can do to prevent getting bitten by mosquitoes and the latest mosquito test results, visit the Connecticut Mosquito Management Program Web site at www.ct.gov/mosquito.