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Cases Reported In Bridgeport And Hamden-Rell Orders Protective Measures Against West Nile Virus



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Cases Reported In Bridgeport And Hamden—

Rell Orders Protective Measures Against West Nile Virus

Newtown Health District Director Donna Culbert is imploring local residents to remain vigilant about areas of standing water that could breed mosquitoes, and possibly attract insects infected with the West Nile Virus. Ms Culbert reenforced standing advice she has been circulating since spring in the wake of a recent West Nile related death in the New Haven area, and news of several other infections in the region.

Governor M. Jodi Rell Tuesday directed state environmental protection and public health officials to intensify measures to safeguard the public from mosquito-borne West Nile virus — especially along shoreline communities — as the number of Connecticut residents infected with the virus this year rose to five, including one fatality.

Governor Rell also authorized the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to purchase additional supplies of larvicide for municipalities to use in the control of mosquito populations, especially in areas where disease-bearing mosquitoes have been identified in high numbers. Larvicide is contained in pellets and other nonspray forms to kill larva in mosquito breeding areas.

Newtown First Selectmen Herb Rosenthal said he would be happy to take any assistance the state offered, provided it was needed at this point in the year.

“As long as our health district director deems it appropriate, I’m sure we will be taking advantage of the assistance,” Mr Rosenthal said.

Ms Culbert, however, insisted the town currently has enough of the treatment chemicals to get through the rest of this season.

“I’m under the impression the state wants to provide larvicide to those towns where West Nile is already affecting residents,” she said. “Newtown crews are completing the process of applying the larvicide to storm drainage system. I have a call into the Highway Department to check the status of the larvicide application,” she said, stressing that no amount of larvicide can replace homeowner vigilance.

“It’s important to keep stressing to people to dump standing water, and avoid mosquito bites, especially at dusk and dawn. Wear protective clothing, use repellent, check and repair their home’s screens,” the health director added.

As part of the statewide campaign, the Governor has directed DEP and the Department of Public Health (DPH) to provide stepped-up technical assistance to local officials in high-incident areas. This includes the greater New Haven area, where a fatality occurred last week and a new human case was reported Monday by DPH.

“Last week, we were very saddened to learn that a New Haven resident passed away from West Nile virus infection,” Governor Rell said. “There are four additional Connecticut residents who have contracted the virus. While I am advised that the other individuals have either recovered or are expected to recover, this is five cases too many.

“August and September represent the peak time for transmission of West Nile virus to people, we are urging everyone to take all precautions to avoid mosquito bites,” the Governor said.

On Tuesday, the Department of Public Health reported that a resident of Bridgeport and a resident of Hamden have tested positive for West Nile virus infection. On Monday, a second New Haven resident was reported with the infection. All three are expected to recover, state public health officials said.

A Bristol resident tested positive earlier this summer and recovered.

“I have asked DEP and DPH to increase their technical assistance contacts with officials in cities and towns where prevalence of West Nile virus activity is high — including New Haven, West Haven and East Haven,” Governor Rell said. “Larvicide will be offered to municipalities in the most affected areas.”

To date, West Nile-positive mosquitoes have been identified in 17 cities and towns in a widening area of Connecticut, DPH reported. The towns include Bridgeport, Danbury, Darien, East Haven, Glastonbury, Greenwich, Hartford, Killingworth, Milford, New Haven, Newington, Norwalk, Southington, Stamford, Stratford, West Haven, and Wethersfield.

In a letter to chief municipal officials in the 17 municipalities, Governor Rell gave an overview of state protective measures and technical assistance.

“Recent events have raised our level of concern regarding mosquito-borne diseases here in Connecticut, particularly West Nile virus,” the Governor wrote. “Over the past few weeks we have had several human cases of WNV reported, including one fatality. In addition, monitoring data indicate a high number of mosquitoes that have tested positive for WNV, especially in your area…I have asked the Departments of Environmental Protection and Public Health to assess and step up the resources they have available to provide to towns and cities like yours, where high levels of mosquito-related disease activity has been identified.”

“We have collected over 160 West Nile positive pools of mosquitoes at trap sites located in the three most populous counties of the state,” said Theodore G. Andreadis, PhD, chief medical entomologist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. “In addition to the expanding number of locations, we continue to identify infected mosquitoes in these areas when trapping is repeated and to isolate the virus from an increasing number of different species indicating continued local buildup.”

Most people who are infected with West Nile virus and become ill will have a mild illness that may include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, or a skin rash. Infrequently, people develop severe illness of the nervous system that can also include neck stiffness, disorientation, loss of consciousness, tremors, muscle weakness, and paralysis. Persons older than 50 years of age are more likely than younger persons to suffer the more severe health consequences if they become infected with West Nile virus.

During 2005, six Connecticut residents were diagnosed with West Nile infections, one of whom died.

The state West Nile virus monitoring system emphasizes evaluation of mosquito populations. Announcements are made based on the numbers and types of mosquitoes that test positive for West Nile virus. The Agriculture Experiment Station has established a network of 91 mosquito-trapping stations in 72 municipalities throughout the state from June through October.

Mosquito traps are set every ten days at each site on a rotating basis.

The Connecticut Mosquito Management Program is an interagency program consisting of the Department of Environmental Protection, the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, the Department of Public Health, the Department of Agriculture, and the University of Connecticut Department of Pathobiology and Veterinary Science.

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