Health Department — Get rid of standing water to help prevent West Nile, Zika virus


Trumbull has had a significant amount of rain this spring, which is why the Health Department is encouraging residents to take be vigilant in preventing mosquito breeding areas around the home. Mosquitoes need very little water to breed and can reproduce in standing water in wheelbarrows, tires, bird baths and garbage can lids.

There are many different types of mosquitos and they carry different types of diseases, according to Health Director Rhonda Capuano. The two mosquito diseases of concern for Connecticut residents are West Nile virus (WNV) and Zika virus.

West Nile virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. The common house mosquito, culex pipien, is considered to be the primary carrier.

“The disease can cause a range of symptoms, from very mild to severe,”Capuano said. Symptons can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, paralysis, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord).

“The elderly and those with compromised immune systems are most at risk,” she said. “You can reduce your risk of being infected with [West Nile] by using insect repellent and wearing protective clothing to prevent mosquito bites.”

Zika virus is the newest emerging infectious disease caused by mosquitoes. The virus is transmitted primarily by aedes aegypti, the mosquitoes that are aggressive daytime biters. They can also bite at night and can be found in buildings. They become infected when they bite a person already infected with the virus and can then transmit the virus when they bite another person.

Aedes aegypti is not found in Connecticut but a related species, aedes albopictus, has been identified in the southwestern area of the state and it is also considered capable of transmission of the Zika virus, Capuano said.

“Those infected with Zika infections have relatively mild illnesses that are rarely fatal,” Capuano said. Symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Symptoms can last for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. An increase in birth defects among infants born to women infected during pregnancy is associated with the virus, as are other severe fatal brain defects.

The Health Department recommends following the tips below to ensure a safe and healthy summer:

“Wear long sleeved shirts and long pants, when appropriate. Loose fitting, light colors work best.

“Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.

“Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered insect repellents. When used as directed, EPA registered insect repellants are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breast feeding women.

“Always follow the product label instructions. Do not use repellent on babies younger than 2 months of age.

“Cover arms and legs of children playing near standing water.

“Cover playpens and carriages with mosquito netting.

“Remove objects that can hold standing water such as tin cans, tires, buckets, or bottles.

“Fix holes in screens and attach properly to windows.

The department has a limited amount of mosquito dunks available for residents. There is no charge for the dunks and will be available while supplies last. The mosquito dunks will kill mosquito larvae in containers and bodies of water that cannot be removed or emptied. They are effective for up to 30 wet days. Dunks can be picked up at the Health Department during normal business hours, Monday – Friday, from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

For more information on mosquito borne diseases visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov.