Disease-carrying mosquito expanding in Connecticut

(WTNH)–Mild winter temperatures and lots of spring rain have scientists concerned it could be a busy mosquito season here in Connecticut.

“The females are emerging and biting us, and will continue to do so until the first hard frost, typically in October,” said Dr. Phillip Armstrong with The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.

Armstrong is in charge of the mosquito testing program for the state. This year he says they will be paying close attention to a species that is fairly new to Connecticut, the Asian tiger mosquito.

“This is an invasive species, came over from East Asia in the 1980’s and is spreading northward into Connecticut and the numbers of that species are increasing,” said Armstrong.

The Asian tiger first appeared in the state in 2006. That year they only found one. In 2015 they caught 220 and last year that number jumped to more than 900.

“We’re going to be doing enhanced surveillance for these species using this other trap that is specifically designed to collect this mosquito species,” said Armstrong.

Asian tiger mosquitoes in Connecticut can carry West Nile virus and in other parts of the world they’ve been known to carry other diseases like Zika and Dengue. Last year, despite an increase in the numbers of mosquitoes here in the state, there was only one confirmed case of human West Nile. The concern is with a growing mosquito population that number will go back up.

“There’s a number of simple measures you can take to protect yourself. One is to simply cover up. Wear long sleeve pants and shirts when possible. Consider applying a repellent when outdoors and certainly you wanna eliminate any sources of standing water around the home,” said Armstrong.

Armstrong says the chances of contracting a disease from a mosquito still remains slim. Last year they collected 174,000 mosquitoes across the state and only 122 tested positive for West Nile.

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