The State Mosquito Management Program has announced a Connecticut resident 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 Stratford resident, between 60 and 69 years of age, became ill during the last week of July and reported being bitten by mosquitoes prior to the onset of the illness. The illness was characterized principally by joint and muscle pain, and diarrhea. Laboratory tests confirmed the presence of antibodies to West Nile. The person was not hospitalized and is recovering.

“If you’re planning to spend time outdoors this Labor Day weekend, it’s very important that you take steps to protect yourself from mosquito bites,” said Dr. Randall Nelson, Department of Public Health veterinarian. “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.”

West Nile virus activity varies each year and is difficult to predict. Generally, the greatest risk for transmission to people from infected mosquitoes is from early August to mid-September. This season, circulation of West Nile-positive mosquitoes is highest in coastal towns from Greenwich to Branford and in central Connecticut in Glastonbury.

“Although mosquito populations are declining, we continue to find mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus in several areas of the state,” said Dr. Theodore G. Andreadis, chief medical entomologist with the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES). “This trend is likely to continue through September with further expansion to more communities.”

Since June 27, the CAES has identified West Nile-positive mosquitoes at trap sites in 16 towns: Branford, Bridgeport, East Haven, Fairfield, Glastonbury, Greenwich, Groton, Manchester, New Haven, Norwalk, Plainfield, Stamford, Stratford, Wallingford, Waterford and Westport.

 Eastern equine encephalitis 

Mosquitoes with eastern equine encephalitis virus have been identified in the Pachaug State Forest in Voluntown prompting the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to close part of the forest to recreational activities and two camp grounds there. In addition, ultra-low volume ground spraying was conducted in the area this week to reduce the number of mosquitoes. Mosquitoes collected at trap sites to the south in North Stonington and to the north in Plainfield have tested negative. People in the immediate area surrounding the forest should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites when outdoors.

To monitor the situation, the CAES will continue to trap mosquitoes for eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile virus; statewide results are available on the CAES website as they become available.

For information on both diseases, including what you can do to prevent getting bitten by mosquitoes, visit the Connecticut Mosquito Management Program Web site at ct.gov/mosquito.