Greenwich prepares for mosquito season

Like many other communities in the region, Greenwich is gearing up for another fight against West Nile Virus (WNV), as the warm weather brings potentially infected mosquitoes along with it.

The State of Connecticut began trapping and testing mosquitoes for the virus in June and will continue battling the virus through November. As a part of the initiative, there will be a preemptive larviciding effort in Greenwich that will address catch basins at public and private roadways, public school grounds and town owned property as 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,” Director of Health Caroline Calderone Baisley stated.

With the help of state agencies, Greenwich will implement a mosquito management program that focuses on monitoring and surveillance, education and prevention. Currently, adult mosquito control will only occur if deemed necessary. Last year there were four reported human cases of West Nile Virus in Connecticut, and one human case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) reported.

As a part of the 2013 surveillance of the virus, 192,172 mosquitoes collected from 91 in state trapping stations and tested. Testing led to 90 positive isolations of the virus carried by several species of mosquito, as well as 58 isolations of EEE.

“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,” Greenwich’s Director of Environmental Services Michael Long said. “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 Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) will assist the Department of Health with identifying mosquito breeding sites, while the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) will trap and isolate arboviruses within the mosquito population. The Connecticut Department of Public Health will be responsible for surveiling cases of WNV in humans, with the Connecticut Department of Agriculture being responsible for domestic animal infections.

Most individuals who suffer a bite from an infected mosquito are able to stave off the infection with minimal symptoms, but approximately one percent of those bitten will become ill. While there is no cure, the symptoms are often treatable, and those who are affected are expected to recover. Infection leads to death in three to 15 percent of persons with severe forms of the illness.

For those advanced in age the virus can lead to serious illness and complications, such as encephalitis and meningitis. At its most serious, WNV can cause permanent neurological damage and death. Symptoms occur suddenly within five to 15 days of the bite, including slight fever, headache, rash, swollen lymph nodes, nausea, malaise and eye pain, severe headaches, high fever, stiff neck, disorientation, severe muscle weakness, gastrointestinal problems, coma or death. Residents are encouraged to seek a physician if they develop the listed symptoms.

In order to prevent mosquito bites, the Department of Health recommends avoiding outdoor activities at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active, and using mosquito repellent during extended periods outdoors. Repellants with 10 percent or less DEET is ideal for children, while adults should avoid more than 30 percent. DEET repellents are not recommended for infants or small children. Additionally, covering the arms and legs with proper clothing and covering playpens and carriages with mosquito netting is effective as well.

When camping, take care not to stay near stagnant or standing water where mosquitoes may breed or be active. If you dispose of a dead animal, take care to use gloves or a bag to handle the animal without touching it. Eliminating any locations where stagnant water can gather, such as drains, buckets, empty cans and pipes will help prevent mosquitoes at home as well. For bodies of water that have no natural means of preventing mosquito breeding, there are biological control agents that can be used to treat the water such as Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (BTI) and Bacillus sphaericus (BS) . Before using these agents, contact the Department of Health or Greenwich Conservation Commission to determine whether treatment is necessary.

The Town of Greenwich Mosquito Management Brochure is available throughout the community and on Greenwichct.org

More information is available by calling the Division of Environmental Services at 203-987-1001 or the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection at 860-642-7630.

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