Weston First Selectwoman Nina Daniel and Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe announced that they are establishing a joint Task Force to address insect and tickborne diseases. Westport Weston Health District Director of Health Mark Cooper will be appointed Chairman of the Task Force. Representatives of agencies from both towns will be asked to serve. Coordinated in reaction to local concerns about the Zika Virus and other insect and tickborne diseases, the mission of the Task Force will include the development of a response plan that addresses reducing the risk of insect and tickborne diseases in each town by developing and distributing educational materials to the public about using self protection strategies, as well as how to modify and/or treat mosquito breeding habitats.
Although there has not been any reported cases of Zika Virus acquired in the U.S., as of May 31, 2016, there have been 618 travel associated cases. Officials across the country and here in Connecticut are preparing for the Zika Virus to impact its residents. Mark Cooper indicated that Zika virus is spread most commonly through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquito. It was only recently that the CDC confirmed that the Aedes albopictus mosquito is a carrier of Zika. Last year, the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station confirmed that the Aedes albopictus mosquito has been found in Westport and Weston in the past. Therefore our residents could potentially be at risk for contracting the virus should the Aedes albopictus mosquito establish itself in Connecticut again this year and becomes infected with Zika.