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Connecticut experiences early start to West Nile virus season

While health experts say the area sees positive tests every summer, Darien didn't get its first until the middle of August last year.

Greg Thompson

Jul 5, 2024, 10:13 PM

Updated 11 days ago

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The Connecticut Department of Public Health says its already found mosquitos testing positive for West Nile Virus in Darien, Norwalk and Stamford.
While health experts say the area sees positive tests every summer, Darien didn't get its first until the middle of August last year.
Some people in the area were thrown off by the news, with Trumbull's Julia Hull saying, "I think that's scary."
Anthony Weisman, from Darien, thanked News 12 for sending him "into a despairing Google search."
Officials say with how warm the spring was, and how many cases there have been around the region, the early start is not necessarily surprising, or a cause from concern.
"It's something that we are prepared for and ready to go," said Kelley Tomlinson, the health educator for the Norwalk Health Department. "It's just a little bit earlier than we're used to."
As far as West Nile virus itself, state data says about 80% of people who get it will never even show symptoms.
However, there are some rare cases where it can cause hospitalization, or even death, so Tomlinson warns "if you are experiencing things such as fever, head aches, joint pains, body aches, just consult your health care provider and talk through what you're experiencing."
Because of that risk, experts recommend people play it safe when there are a lot of mosquitoes around, especially those on the younger or older side, going out between dusk and dawn or if going into a cooler area, like the woods and the shade.
"These are things of concern, but we still want people to enjoy the outdoors," said John Shepard, an assistant scientist with the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station's State Mosquito Trapping and Surveillance Program. "We provide this data so people can make informed decisions about what level of protection they want to take."
Health officials say there are some simple things to protect yourself outside, including wearing long sleeves whenever possible and putting on bug spray. They also recommend
that homeowners make sure all windows have screens that are in good shape and those who have containers or bins that can build up water, to empty those out at least once a week.
Tomlinson says there is no need to do anything extreme, and "you don't want to lose out on the summer, but definitely just taking those precautions of just being a little extra vigilant."
Both the state and local health departments say they're also being vigilant, increasing their mosquito management and testing programs throughout the season.


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