West Nile Virus

West Nile VirusWest Nile fever is a mosquito-borne viral infection that can cause inflammation of the brain. 

West Nile Virus (WNV) is spread to humans by the bite of infected mosquitoes, primarily Culex pipiens.  A mosquito is infected by biting a bird carrying the virus.  West Nile virus is not spread by person-to-person contact or directly from birds to people.  Anyone living in an area where virus activity is present is at risk of contracting this disease, however, the elderly and persons with comprised immune systems are more likely to become seriously ill.   

The State Mosquito Management Program announced that mosquitoes trapped in August 2010 were positive for West Nile Virus  in several towns including Westport. The Westport Weston Health District encourages residents to take personal and homeowner precautions to limit their exposure to mosquitoes, particularly in the hours around dusk and dawn.

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Symptoms

Symptoms generally occur 5 to 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.  Most infections are mild and symptoms include slight fever, headache, rash or swollen nodes.  More severe symptoms include rapid onset of severe headache, high fever, stiff neck, disorientation, muscle weakness, and coma.

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Limit outdoor activities from dusk to dawn when mosquitoes are most active.

  • If you are outdoors, wear long sleeved shirts, long pants, and use mosquito repellent containing no more than 30% DEET.
  • Repellents containing 15% or less DEET are recommended for children, but products containing DEET should not be used on infants.
  • Carefully follow the directions on labels for insecticides or repellents.
  • Cover arms and legs of children outdoors or near swamps or areas with stagnant water.
  • Playpens or carriages can be protected by covering with mosquito netting.

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

DEET

DEET, n-diethyl-m-toluamide, is a broad spectrum insect repellent developed by the U.S. government. DEET has undergone extensive toxicological and dermatological testing and studies have demonstrated its safety.

Repellents can be applied to exposed skin and clothing but should not be used under clothing.

For more information see:

Toxicology Data Network
EPA Fact Sheet on DEET
Connecticut Department of Agriculture News

Homeowner's Measures

  • Remove tin cans, tires, buckets, bottles or any objects in which standing water may collect.
  • Potholes, holes, ditches, tree trunks or stumps where water may accumulate should be filled in with sand or cement.
  • Keep gutters and drains clean of leaves and debris so water can drain.
  • Empty recycling bins, invert trash can tops and empty wadding pools every 4-7 days.  Store indoors.
  • Do not leave swimming pools uncovered without chlorination and filtering.
  • Eliminate collected water on boat and pool covers.
  • Avoid over-watering of lawns by irrigation or hose.
  • Replace water in bird baths and plant saucers every 4-7 days.
  • Fix any holes in screens and make certain that they are properly attached to windows.
  • Construction sites should be cleaned weekly.  Remove standing water in machinery, buckets and ditches.