CT Resident Tests Positive For West Nile Virus In State's First Human Case Of Season

The first positive case of West Nile Virus in a Connecticut resident has been confirmed by the state Department of Public Health.

A Connecticut resident has contracted West NIle Virus.
A Connecticut resident has contracted West NIle Virus. Photo Credit: Pixabay

Health officials said that a Waterbury resident who is between the age of 40 and 49 tested positive for the virus after falling ill in the second week of July. Tests later confirmed the presence of antibodies to West Nile in the patient.

It is believed that the person who tested positive may have been exposed to it in the Newington or Wethersfield areas.

“The identification of a Connecticut resident with West Nile virus-associated illness emphasizes the need to take actions to prevent mosquito bites,” Acting Health Commissioner. Diedre Gifford said.

“Using insect repellent, covering bare skin, and avoiding being outdoors during the hours of dusk and dawn are effective ways to help keep you from being bitten by mosquitoes.”

West Nile virus is the most common mosquito-borne viral disease in the country and reemerges every summer in Connecticut. One hundred fifty-seven human cases of West Nile virus, including four deaths, have been diagnosed in Connecticut residents since 2000.

Effectively controlling mosquito-borne diseases requires a partnership between the Department of Health and Stamford’s community,” health officials said. "Homeowners and businesses are reminded to remove standing water, discard cans and bottles, and cut back tall grass, bushes, and shrubbery on their properties.”

According to officials, “most people infected with West Nile virus will experience mild or no symptoms, but some can develop severe symptoms including high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness, and paralysis.”

“The symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent,” officials noted. “Individuals, especially those 50 years of age or older, or those with compromised immune systems, who are most at risk, are urged to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.”

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said that the continued warm humid weather enhances mosquito biting activity and heightens the risk of acquiring West Nile virus and eastern equine encephalitis virus infection

"We will continue to monitor the situation closely with increased mosquito trapping and testing and urge residents throughout the entire state to take simple measures to avoid mosquito bites such as using mosquito repellent and covering bare skin, especially at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.”

Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds, according to health officials. 

The infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to humans and other animals. In humans, West Nile Virus may cause a mild illness but may also cause encephalitis - inflammation of the brain - or meningitis - inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord.

Health officials said that to avoid mosquito bites, one should:

  • Minimize outdoor activities between dusk and dawn;
  • Wear shoes and socks, long pants and long-sleeved shirts when mosquitoes are active;
  • Use mosquito repellent, following label directions carefully;
  • Make sure all windows and doors have screens, and that all screens are in good repair;
  • Keep mosquitoes from laying eggs inside and outside of your home. Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out containers that hold water, such as vases, pet water bowls, flowerpot saucers, discarded tires, buckets, pool covers, birdbaths, trash cans, and rain barrels.

“We continue to have weather conditions that are favorable for the mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus,” Dr. Philip Armstrong, Medical Entomologist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station said. “These mosquitoes are most abundant in urban and suburban areas with dense human populations.”

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