First human cases of West Nile virus reported
Two Bridgeport residents have tested positive for West Nile virus, according to the State Mosquito Management Program. These are the first human cases of West Nile virus associated illness identified in Connecticut this season.
The state also announced Wilton has been identified as one of 20 towns in Connecticut where mosquitoes testing positive for the disease have been trapped. One such mosquito was found at the trap on Spectacle Lane.
Both of the patients diagnosed with West Nile virus were hospitalized but have since been discharged.
One patient, 40 to 49 years of age, became ill during the third week of August with meningitis. The other patient, 70 to 79 years of age, became ill during the fourth week of August with encephalitis. The illnesses were characterized principally by fever, nausea, vomiting and weakness. Laboratory tests confirmed the presence of antibodies to West Nile virus. They did not travel out of the state prior to onset of illness.
“The identification of Connecticut residents with West Nile virus associated illness that required hospitalization underscores the potential seriousness of infection,” said Department of Public Health veterinarian, Dr. Randall Nelson. “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.”
“We continue to have weather conditions that are favorable for the mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus,” said 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. West Nile virus positive mosquitoes have been identified in Bridgeport starting Aug. 3 and most recently on Aug. 27.”
In addition to Wilton and Bridgeport, towns with West Nile virus positive mosquitoes this year are: Cheshire, Chester, Darien, East Haven, Glastonbury, Greenwich, Groton, Guilford, Hartford, New Haven, Norwalk, Stamford, Stonington, Stratford, Waterford, West Haven, Westport, and Wethersfield. Of the 20 towns, 15 are along Long Island Sound in Fairfield (8), New Haven (4) and New London (3) counties.
Importantly, the numbers of WNV infected mosquitoes responsible for transmission of the virus to people that have been trapped recently exceed the historical weekly averages.
During 2014, positive mosquitoes were identified in 15 towns. Six people were reported with West Nile virus-associated illnesses. There were no fatalities; however, five people were hospitalized.
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.