Three From Fairfield County Test Positive For West Nile Virus

Three new West Nile virus cases have been detected by the Connecticut Department of Public Health according to a press release the agency issued on Wednesday, Sept. 9, bringing the state's season total to four human cases. 

The third case of West Nile virus has been reported in Suffolk County, according to Suffolk County Commissioner of Health Services Dr. James Tomarken.
The third case of West Nile virus has been reported in Suffolk County, according to Suffolk County Commissioner of Health Services Dr. James Tomarken. Photo Credit: Pixabay

Two of the patients that fell ill in the second week of August, both between the ages of 20 and 39, are recovering in Danbury and Newtown respectively. 

One of these patients experienced a severe headache and fever, while the second is recovering from West Nile encephalitis, which is swelling in the brain caused by the West Nile virus.

The third patient, in his or her 70s, experienced West Nile encephalitis after being diagnosed in the last week of August. The Greenwich resident is recovering in hospice. 

All three patients have developed antibodies to the virus. 

According to the agency, West Nile Virus has been detected in Connecticut residents every year since 1999. Last year, one human case of the virus was reported, the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station found the virus in 82 mosquito samples from 23 towns throughout the state and one human case was reported. 

Before this year, 158 cases of West Nile virus have been reported in Connecticut; only four of these were fatal.

Officials warn residents to use insect repellant with over 30 percent DEET to prevent mosquito bites, and to do what they can to prevent pools of standing water, where mosquitoes breed, on their properties.

“Late summer-early fall is the critical time of year when West Nile virus reaches its peak in the mosquito population,” said Dr. Philip Armstrong, Medical Entomologist at CAES. “We strongly encourage residents throughout the state to take simple steps to prevent mosquito bites.”

This includes removing or turning any objects that may hold water from backyards, checking children's playground equipment and toys for standing water, drilling holes in the bottoms of recycling containers that are left outdoors, emptying bird baths twice weekly, discarding any unused tires and keeping gutters free of debris. 

“The last days of summer are a nice time of year to be outside and enjoy the weather, but as we do that I encourage everyone to take actions to prevent mosquito bites,” said DPH Acting Commissioner Deidre Gifford, MD MPH. “Mosquitoes are most active around the time of sunset and sunrise, and you can get very sick from West Nile Virus or other mosquito borne illnesses if you are not careful. 

"This goes for any age, though anyone over the age of 60 is at greater risk. 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. The risk of WNV doesn’t end until the first hard frost of fall.”

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