The West Nile virus season is a little bit early this year. Experts at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station aren’t surprised to find mosquitoes carrying the virus, but they don’t usually find them until late July or early August.
The wet spring, the end of the drought, that all means more standing water, and that’s what the mosquitoes like, so we’re going to see more of them this year than the past couple years. Do everyone a favor and empty anything that holds standing water around your property after Tuesday’s rain. Experts at the Agricultural Experiment Station trap mosquitoes from all over and then test them in their lab.
“The stage has been set. We’ve had a very wet spring and the numbers of mosquitoes that we’re collecting are beginning to build,” said Dr. Theodore Andreadis, director of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. “That’ll depend on what kind of summer we have.”
In other words, it’s too early to tell what the rest of the season will look like. Some mosquitoes trapped on June 29th in West Haven have now been tested and do carry the virus. It’s the Asian Tiger Mosquito that’s carrying it. It’s an invasive species that’s been spreading across the U.S. for the past 30 years. It’s the same bug that carries the Zika virus in some parts of the world – not here. It’s also the same bug that carries dengue fever in other places. The mosquitoes tend to live in urban areas.
Most West Nile cases in Connecticut occur along the I-95 corridor, mainly in southwestern Connecticut. It was no surprise that the bugs that tested positive were in that area.
“West Haven is in the area we usually see most of our activity, most of the infected mosquitoes and infected people,” Andreadis said.
To keep yourself and loved ones safe, you want to minimize the time you spend outdoors between dusk and dawn, when bugs are the most active. Check the window and door screens on your house to make sure they’re in good shape and don’t have any rips or tears. Wear long sleeves and long pants with socks when you’re outside. And use mosquito netting if you are camping or sleeping outside, and don’t go anywhere without your mosquito repellant. Experts recommend sprays with DEET, but there are other options.
“Some people have allergies to the bug sprays, things like that, so we have some things that are a little bit more natural,” said David Katz, owner of Goody’s Hardware in East Haven. “Some of the things are a little bit more designed for kids.”
The virus is in West Haven now, but it will likely keep spreading to mosquitoes and, sadly, people in other parts of the state during the next three months. This is a problem that is going to get worse, not better, as the summer goes on.
The West Nile virus season typically declines in September.