West Nile Virus Mosquitoes in Branford

With West Nile Virus (WNV)-carrying mosquitoes found in Branford in late August, residents throughout the area should be especially vigilant about bite prevention from now until the first hard frost.

On Aug. 29, the East Shore District Health Department (ESDHD) released the news that the disease-carrying mosquitoes had been detected in trapping pools in the Hosley Avenue area. One month earlier, WNV-carrying mosquitoes were trapped and confirmed in East Haven.

ESDHD is the government health agency for Branford, North Branford, and East Haven. ESDHD Assistant Director Alex Cinotti told The Sound the detection of WNV-carrying mosquitoes in Branford means mosquitoes infected with the disease are likely to be in more towns in this geographical area, including North Branford, even if samples have not been officially trapped and identified there. ESDHD Director Michael Pascucilla was away from the office last week, but had touched based with Cinotti on the morning the news was released.

"As Mike mentioned to me this morning, it's not surprising-it was found in East Haven last month; it was found in Branford this month. Within a short period of time, the state's coming out with its own press release which is going to update how many towns have been found with positive pools of West Nile Virus," said Cinotti.

Mosquito larvae are collected every 10 days from 91 traps around the state, located in 72 different towns. The latest detection-count press release from the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station Mosquito Management program, dated Aug. 6, named 12 towns with WNV-mosquitoes, with an increase in that number expected over the summer and early fall (www.ct.gov/mosquito). As of Aug. 29, no human cases of WNV were reported in Connecticut. In 2012, there were 21 cases across the state.

ESDHD locally administers the program that includes mosquito and human surveillance and aggressive elimination of mosquito-breeding conditions. As of press time, a spraying program to kill mosquito larvae here was not being considered, said Cinotti.

Cinotti also emphasized last week's news of the state's shutting down parts of the Pachaug State Forest to spray pesticides was done to diminish the threat of mosquitoes infected with Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or "Triple E," one of the most severe mosquito-transmitted diseases in this country.

"Triple E is much worse than West Nile Virus, which is why the DEEP decided to close that particular area," he said.

West Nile Virus, on the other hand, has been detected in this area and across the state before, and this time of year is a common time for the disease-carrying mosquitoes to make an appearance. Mosquitoes remain prevalent through the month of September and won't truly be gone for the season until the first hard frost of the season, said Cinotti.

"We are recommending that people avoid outdoor activities around the dawn and dusk hours and wear repellent, long sleeves, and long pants; if you have any stagnant water in your yard, dump it, avoid areas that have a lot of mosquitoes?the normal precautions," said Cinotti (see "Protective Measures to Avoid Mosquitoes" on page 3).

He added that, as of last week, his office had not fielded any phone calls from worried residents.

"I've got a feeling most of the public has gotten used to this. It's something that happens every year, but we don't want anyone to come down with West Nile Virus. Right now, it's in mosquitoes, and we want to try to avoid a preventable disease by reminding everyone to take precautions," Cinotti said. "Until the first hard frost, be wary of mosquitoes."

See the ESDHD's full press release with this story at www.zip06.com/branford. Residents with questions or concerns can contact ESDHD at 203-481-4233 or visit its website at www.esdhd.org.

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