West Nile virus has spread to 17 Connecticut towns, state officials say

Mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus have been found in 17 cities in Connecticut, including the coastal areas of Fairfield and New Haven counties and the Hartford metro area.

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After this month’s heat and humidity, scientists have noticed an increase in West Nile virus-infected mosquitoes across Connecticut.

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, or CAES, identified infected mosquitoes in 17 cities this season. This includes Branford, Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, Hartford, Ledyard, Milford, New Canaan, New Haven, Norwalk, Stamford, Stratford, Wallingford, West Haven, Westport and Woodstock.

Just earlier this monththe virus was only detected in eight municipalities.

Medical entomologist Philip Armstrong said these sharp increases are most common in Fairfield and New Haven counties, as well as the Hartford area.

“We anticipate greater geographic spread and accumulation of West Nile virus in mosquitoes, with increased risk of human infection, between now and September,” Armstrong warned.

Part of the increase has been due to warm and humid weather, according to CAES director Jason White.

“Recent heat waves and high humidity have provided favorable conditions for mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus,” White said in a statement. “We urge everyone to prevent mosquito bites by using insect repellent and covering bare skin, especially during dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.”

There have been no reported human cases of West Nile virus so far this season, CAES said a news release. Since 2000, there have been 173 human cases of West Nile virus, including four fatalities, in Connecticut.

Of the 165,366 mosquitoes tested this year, 88 tested positive for West Nile virus, according to CAES data.

In order to reduce the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes, CAES recommends that residents limit the time they spend outdoors between dusk and dawn and use insect repellent. Residents should also wear shoes, socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors.

“Clothing should be light-colored and loose-fitting and made of well-woven materials that keep mosquitoes away from the skin,” CAES added.

When indoors, residents should ensure that the screens on their doors and windows are tight. Anyone sleeping outdoors or in an unprotected structure should use a mosquito net.

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