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EXPANDED STORY: Mosquitoes from Weston test positive for West Nile virus

A pool of mosquitoes trapped near Devil’s Den Preserve in Weston has tested positive for West Nile virus.

According to Mark Cooper, director of health for the Westport Weston Health District, the state health department reported Monday that the virus had been detected in mosquitoes trapped in Weston. “This is not surprising in that towns all around Weston have had such mosquitoes,” Mr. Cooper said in an email to Weston First Selectman Gayle Weinstein.

Mosquitoes have tested positive for the virus, which can cause flu-like symptoms in people who are bitten by the infected insects, in more than 30 towns in the state this year, including nearby Wilton, Westport, Bethel, Darien and New Canaan.

“People just need to be aware and take appropriate precautions,” said Ms. Weinstein. “No one from Weston has reported being sick,” she added.

West Nile virus is spreading across the country, with more than 40 people nationwide having tested positive with the disease. As of Aug. 23, there were just four confirmed cases of people in Connecticut testing positive for the virus. Last year, there were nine reported cases of West Nile infection in Connecticut residents.

The disease is rarely serious in humans — most people who are infected will have no symptoms — but it can be serious, even fatal in some rare cases; people older than 50 are most susceptible to more serious complications, including encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord).

Symptoms range from a slight fever, headache, rash, swollen lymph nodes and conjunctivitis, to the rapid onset of a severe headache, high fever, stiff neck, disorientation, muscle weakness and coma.

No spraying planned

Mr. Cooper said the state is not considering doing any aerial spraying of insecticides since the mosquito “season” is winding down.

The mosquito population tends to peak in August. That is also when the state health department also reports the most human cases are reported.

Ms. Weinstein said she agrees with the decision not to do any aerial spraying. “We are concerned about people putting insecticides on their land which will then go directly into well water,” she said.

However, Mr. Cooper said, “until the first frost, residents should be encouraged to avoid mosquito contact during the peak mosquito times of dawn and dusk, as well as use precautions such as long-sleeved shirts and pants, and the use of repellent.”

Ms. Weinstein added that residents also should take steps to remove standing water on their property, which can attract mosquitoes.

This includes cleaning roof gutters and overturning receptacles such as kiddie pools, wheelbarrows and bird baths.

Other ways to reduce exposure to mosquitoes include:

• Make sure screens are in good repair and are tight-fitting.

• Wear clothing that is made of a tightly woven material to keep mosquitoes way from the skin.

• Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in an unscreened structure, and to protect small babies when outdoors.

• Clean and chlorinate swimming pools and aerate ornamental pools and fountains.

For more information on West Nile virus and what you can do to prevent getting bitten by mosquitoes, visit the Connecticut Mosquito Management Program Web site at www.ct.gov/mosquito.

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