First human case of West Nile in state this season reported in Milford

The Connecticut Department of Public Health announced Tuesday that a resident of Milford has tested positive for West Nile Virus infection. This is the first human case of West Nile Virus associated illness identified in Connecticut this season.

The patient, between 70 and 79 years of age, became ill during the fourth week of August with encephalitis and remains hospitalized. Laboratory tests confirmed the presence of antibodies to West Nile Virus. This person did not travel out of the state before becoming ill, state officials said.

“The identification of a Connecticut resident with West Nile Virus associated illness that required hospitalization underscores the potential seriousness of infection,” said Dr. Raul Pino, Commissioner of the Department of Public Health. “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.”

Weather conditions in the state are still favorable for the mosquitoes that transmit West Nile Virus, according to Dr. Philip Armstrong, medical entomologist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment station.

“These mosquitoes are most abundant in urban and suburban areas with dense human populations,” Armstrong said. “West Nile Virus positive mosquitoes were identified in Milford on August 15.”

West Nile Virus has been detected in the state every year since 1999. During 2015, the virus was detected in mosquitoes collected at trap sites in 24 towns. In addition, since 1999, 10 confirmed human cases of the virus were reported in residents from Bridgeport (6), Fairfield (1), Milford (1), New Haven (1), and Shelton (1).

Milford Health Director Deepa D. Joseph said the Milford Health Department began implementing its mosquito control program in April and will continue to do so through October.

The Milford Health Department’s mosquito control program focuses on preventive efforts through mosquito breeding site reduction, especially in densely populated areas, and education about personal protection.

The mosquito control program in Milford started in April with monitoring of the wetlands habitats and larviciding continues throughout the city, Joseph said.

The State of Connecticut Mosquito Management Program is a collaborative effort involving the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection, the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, the Department of Public Health, the Department of Agriculture, and the University of Connecticut Department of Pathobiology and Veterinary Science.

These agencies maintain a network of 91 mosquito-trapping stations in 72 municipalities throughout the state. Mosquito traps are set Monday to Thursday nights at each site every 10 days on a rotating basis.

Mosquitoes are grouped (pooled) for testing according to species, collection site and date. Positive findings are reported to local health departments and on the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station website at http://www.ct.gov/caes/mosquitotesting.

Exposure to mosquitoes and the risk of acquiring West Nile Virus infection varies by season and geographic region. In Connecticut, the risk is highest during August and September and typically subsides in October as mosquitos die off due to lower temperatures, health officials said.

For information on West Nile Virus and other mosquito-borne viruses and how to prevent mosquito bites, visit the Connecticut Mosquito Management Program Web site at ct.gov/mosquito.

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