Mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus found in Hartford

BY Joe Cooper

PHOTO | Dodgerton Skillhause via Morguefile
PHOTO | Dodgerton Skillhause via Morguefile
Mosquitoes trapped last week in Hartford's Keney Park tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV), a viral infection carried by the blood-consuming bugs, according to city officials.

Employees of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection trapped the flies, and city officials announced Tuesday that have not been any reported cases of the virus.

While WNV can cause headache, fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss and numbness, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says those infected by the virus rarely suffer serious illnesses.

However, the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) has warned that the chance of infection is growing because the virus is arising earlier in the season.

"The current warm weather and high humidity provide ideal conditions for further amplification of West Nile virus and this is likely to continue as we move into August," the station's director, Theodore Andreadis, said.

WNV mosquitoes aren't uncommon in Connecticut, but state officials say prevalence is on the rise, with cases reported in over a dozen municipalities in Connecticut this year. WNV positive mosquitos have been found in communities such as New Haven, West Haven, Greenwich, Stamford, Waterbury and Bridgeport.

To prevent mosquito-borne illnesses, state and city officials are reminding people to close doors and window screens, wear shoes, socks, long pants or a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors and to use mosquito repellent.

CAES maintains 91 trapping stations in 72 municipalities throughout Connecticut to test mosquitoes for WNV. Since 2000, 134 Connecticut residents have been diagnosed with WNV. Three of them died.

Mosquito trapping and testing results can be found here.