West Nile Virus

2012 ranked as the second worst year for reported cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) in the United States. Connecticut reported 21 cases of WNV in 2012 with 12 of those cases being the severe neuroinvasive type that can cause encephalitis. An interesting fact regarding all the Connecticut cases is that not one of the victims used insect repellent as a preventative measure. The Plainville-Southington Regional Health District reminds all residents that the easiest and best way to avoid WNV is to prevent mosquito bites.

What you can do to prevent WNV:

  • When you are outdoors, use insect repellents containing an EPA-registered insect repellent. Follow the directions on the package. Repellents containing at least 5% – 20% DEET have been shown to provide the most effective protection time. The higher the concentration of DEET, the longer is the protection time. For those preferring a more natural alternative, repellents containing 2% soybean oil have been shown to provide protection time equal to those repellents containing the lower concentration of DEET (around 60 to 90 minutes).
  • Mosquitoes are more active at dusk and dawn. Be sure to use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants while outside during these times. Consider staying indoors during these hours as well.
  • Use mosquito netting on baby carriages along with clothing to protect infants.
  • Make sure you have good screens on your windows and doors to keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets and barrels. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths weekly. Drill holes in tire swings and other containers so water drains out. Keep children’s wading pools empty and on their sides when they are not being used. Maintain swimming pools with disinfectant and clean regularly. If swimming pools are not in use, remove all standing water from in the pool or from the pool cover.
  • If there are natural bodies of water on your property, such as a pond, still stream or area subject to periodic flooding, consider using a Bti briquette mosquito larvicide to treat the water body or area to prevent mosquito breeding.

People over 50 are at higher risk to develop severe WNV illness symptoms if they do get sick and should take special care to avoid mosquito bites. The more time a person is outdoors, the greater the opportunity of getting bitten by an infected mosquito. Pay attention to avoiding mosquito bites if you spend time a lot of time outside, either working or playing.

Scott Cook, a health district registered sanitarian, says, “the health district wants everyone to heed the message ‘Mosquitoes: Don’t Let Them Breed; Don’t Let Them Feed.’ It is important that people take simple precautions with themselves and around their homes to prevent mosquito bites and reduce mosquito populations.”

For information contact the Plainville-Southington Regional Health District at 860-276-6275.