Town offers West Nile Virus tips

After West Nile Virus (WNV) was found this past week in Stamford, the town of Greenwich is continuing to warn residents about the danger posed by mosquitos.

According to the town’s Department of Health, Greenwich will continue its effort WNV through November. The program will involve conducting a preemptive larviciding program that will include the treatment of public and private roadway catch basins, public school ground catch basins and other property owned and operated by the town if necessary.

“Controlling the mosquito population in the larval stage through the application of larvicide has been found to be very effective over the years, so it is prudent to continue this action,” said town Director of Health Caroline Calderone Baisley.

When bitten by an infected mosquito, most people are able to fight off the infection and experience either mild symptoms, such as headache and fever, or no symptoms at all. It is believed that approximately one in 100 persons bitten by an infected mosquito become ill. In a minority of infected persons, especially those over 50 years old, WNV can cause serious illness, including encephalitis and meningitis. Infection leads to death in three to 15% of people with severe forms of the illness. The virus is spread to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito, which becomes infected when it bites a bird carrying the virus.

General symptoms occur suddenly between five to 15 days following the bite of an infected mosquito and range from a slight fever, headache, rash, swollen lymph nodes, nausea, malaise and eye pain, to the rapid onset of severe headache, high fever, stiff neck, disorientation, severe muscle weakness, gastrointestinal symptoms, coma or death. Residents are encouraged to see a physician immediately if they develop any of these sudden symptoms.

Town Director of Environmental Services, Michael S. Long said, “Although the town’s larvicide program will treat catch basins, the general public must be vigilant in eliminating standing water on their own properties and protecting themselves from biting mosquitoes at all times. It is important to recognize that the highest risk of exposure to West Nile Virus infected mosquitoes is during the months of August and September.”

The town has suggested several personal precautions that can be taken to protect yourself from mosquitos:

• Avoid outdoor activities at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.

• If you plan to be outdoors for a long period of time, wear long sleeved shirts, long pants and use mosquito repellent according to the manufacturer’s directions on the label (10% or less DEET for children and no more than 30% DEET for adults). Avoid application of repellents with DEET on infants and small children.

• Cover up arms and legs of children playing outdoors and cover playpens or carriages with mosquito netting.

• Don’t camp overnight near stagnant or standing water where mosquitoes are most active.

In addition, Greenwich residents are urged to continue to participate in the town’s mosquito control efforts by eliminating areas of standing water around their homes which includes:

• Get rid of old tires, tin cans, buckets, drums, bottles or any water holding containers.

• Fill in or drain any low places (puddles, ruts) in yard.

• Keep rain gutters, drains, ditches and culverts clean of weeds and trash so water will drain properly.

• Cover trash containers to keep out rainwater.

• Repair leaky pipes and outside faucets.

• Empty plastic wading pools at least once a week and store indoors when not in use.

• Make sure your backyard pool is properly chlorinated every day.

• Fill in tree rot holes and hollow stumps that hold water with sand or concrete.

• Change the water in birdbaths and plant pots or drip trays at least once each week.

• Keep grass cut short and shrubbery well trimmed around the house so adult mosquitoes cannot hide there.

• Eliminate collected water in boat or pool covers.

For more information about the Town’s larviciding program, personal protection and property management recommendations visit Greenwichct.org or call 203-622-7838 or the Greenwich Conservation Commission at 203-622-6461. More information is also available at Ct.gov/mosquito.

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