Mosquitoes trapped last week in Voluntown have tested positive for the eastern equine encephalitis virus. This is the earliest the virus has been detected in the state in the 16 years the trapping program has been in existence.
State health officials said the heavy rains are a contributing factor and there is cause for concern about the early findings because of a longer season to spead the virus.
The mosquitoes to test positive were trapped on July 10, according to the State Mosquito Management Program, and they are the fire mosquitoes to test positively for the virus this year.
“While the EEE-infected mosquitoes were Culiseta melanura, a bird feeding species, identification this early in the season is reason for concern,” Dr. Theodore Andreadis, Chief Medical Entomologist at the CAES said. “Due to recent heavy rains, this species is particularly numerous now and will potentially have a longer season to spread the virus to birds and then mosquito species that feed on birds and people before the weather turns cold in the fall.”
To reduce the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes residents should:
- Minimize time spent outdoors between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
- Keep door and window screens tight-fitting and in good repair.
- Wear shoes, socks, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors for long periods of time, or when mosquitoes are most active. Clothing should be light colored and made of tightly woven materials that keep mosquitoes away from the skin.
- Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in an unscreened structure and to protect small babies when outdoors.
- Consider the use of mosquito repellent, according to directions, when it is necessary to be outdoors.
- For information on EEE and what you can do to prevent getting bitten by mosquitoes, visit the Connecticut Mosquito Management Program website.