Clean up standing water to prevent Zika, West Nile
After a rainy weekend, and with more rain in the forecast for this week, the Trumbull Health Department encourages residents to take precautions and to be vigilant in preventing mosquito breeding areas around the home.
Mosquitoes need very little water to breed. Remove 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. The two mosquito diseases of concern for Connecticut residents are West Nile virus and Zika virus.
“The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station has identified West Nile Virus-infected mosquitos in five towns: Bridgeport, Easton, New Canaan, Stratford and Waterbury,” said Health Director Rhonda Capuano. “Residents are encouraged to remain vigilant in removing standing water on their property to eliminate mosquito breeding areas.”
West Nile virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. The common house mosquito is considered to be the primary vector. West Nile can cause a range of symptoms, from very mild to severe. It can cause 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.
Reduce the risk of being infected with West Nile by using insect repellent and wearing protective clothing to prevent mosquito bites. No human or horse cases have been reported in Connecticut this season. Since 2000, 134 human cases of West Nile have been diagnosed in Connecticut residents, including three fatalities.
Zika virus is the newest emerging infectious disease caused by mosquitoes in the U.S. 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.
Those infected with Zika infections have relatively mild illnesses that are rarely fatal. 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. Many people may not realize they have been infected.
An increase in birth defects among infants born to women infected during pregnancy is associated with the virus, as well as other severe fatal brain defects.
Follow 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 EPA-registered insect repellents. When used as directed, EPA registered insect repellents 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 two 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 Trumbull Health Department has a limited quantity 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.