After a rainy summer, enjoying the great outdoors is difficult with all the mosquitoes buzzing around. It’s not just bites to be concerned about: mosquitoes also carry diseases like West Nile virus.
A new study finds the number of West Nile cases is likely to rise in Connecticut in the coming years due to climate change.
Researchers at the State University of New York at Albany found that as the weather warms, mosquitoes carrying the disease are likely to spread up from the New York and Connecticut border.
Right now, the highest risk for mosquito-borne illness is in Fairfield County, but researchers predict that risk will increase in other parts of the state.
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"With these longer, extended summers, the mosquito season could lengthen,” Dr. Philip Armstrong, Mosquito Monitoring Program director for the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, said. “With climate change one of the predictions is that our summers would become hotter, which would feed into a more increased transmission of West Nile virus.”
Even though it is October, the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station continues to detect the virus in the mosquitoes collected.
So far this year, 195 mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus have been trapped in the state.
Armstrong said there are steps people can take to protect themselves.
“What people can do is take matters into their own hands, and the first line of defense is personal protection against mosquito bites. Things like wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors, and a mosquito repellant, will go a long way in protecting yourself and your family,” Armstrong said.
Human cases of West Nile virus have been reported in Bridgeport, Hartford, and West Haven. According to the CDC, most people infected with West Nile will not experience symptoms, though in rare cases serious and even fatal illness can occur.