West Nile Virus

West Nile fever is a mosquito-borne viral infection that can cause inflammation of the brain.

mosquitoesWest Nile Virus (WNV) is spread to humans by the bite of infected mosquitoes, primarily Culex pipiens.  A mosquito is infected by biting a bird carrying the virus.  West Nile virus is not spread by person-to-person contact or directly from birds to people.  Anyone living in an area where virus activity is present is at risk of contracting this disease, however, the elderly and persons with comprised immune systems are more likely to become seriously ill.

To identify areas where viruses are circulating, and help access the threat to public health, the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) conducts annual mosquito trapping and testing from June through October. Traps at sites in southwestern (Fairfield and New Haven counties) and in central (greater Hartford area) Connecticut are responsible for collecting  95% of WNV infected mosquitoes.

The Westport Weston Health District encourages residents to take personal and homeowner precautions to limit their exposure to mosquitoes, particularly in the hours around dusk and dawn.

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Symptoms

Symptoms generally occur 5 to 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.  Most infections are mild and symptoms include slight fever, headache, rash or swollen nodes.  More severe symptoms include rapid onset of severe headache, high fever, stiff neck, disorientation, muscle weakness, and coma.

Prevention

  • Limit outdoor activities from dusk to dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
  • If you are outdoors, wear long sleeved shirts, long pants, and use mosquito repellent.
  • Apply repellents only to exposed skin and/or clothing. Do not use under clothing.
  • Carefully follow the directions on labels for insecticides or repellents.
  • Cover arms and legs of children outdoors or near swamps or areas with stagnant water.
  • Playpens or carriages can be protected by covering with mosquito netting.

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Homeowner’s Measures

  • Remove tin cans, tires, buckets, bottles or any objects in which standing water may collect.
  • Potholes, holes, ditches, tree trunks or stumps where water may accumulate should be filled in with sand or cement.
  • Keep gutters and drains clean of leaves and debris so water can drain.
  • Empty recycling bins, invert trash can tops and empty wadding pools every 4-7 days.  Store indoors.
  • Do not leave swimming pools uncovered without chlorination and filtering.
  • Eliminate collected water on boat and pool covers.
  • Avoid over-watering of lawns by irrigation or hose.
  • Replace water in bird baths and plant saucers every 4-7 days.
  • Fix any holes in screens and make certain that they are properly attached to windows.
  • Construction sites should be cleaned weekly.  Remove standing water in machinery, buckets and ditches.