Mosquito pools test positive for West Nile Virus

West Nile virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Courtesy photo

Protect yourself from mosquito bites

State officials report that mosquitoes collected in Weathersfield and Brattleboro have tested positive for West Nile virus. These are the first detections of the mosquito-borne virus in Vermont this year. No human case of illness from West Nile has been confirmed so far.

West Nile virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito, and over the years, the virus has been found in every county in the state.

The mosquito trapping began on June 6 by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets as part of the arbovirus surveillance program. The testing is performed by the Department of Health Laboratory.

Eight cases of West Nile virus in humans have been reported in Vermont since 2011. In 2016, the state tested 3,243 mosquito pools. Of those, 19 were positive for West Nile virus and none tested positive for Eastern equine encephalitis virus. There have been no positive test results for the EEE virus this surveillance season.

“West Nile virus appears in mosquitoes in Vermont every year, so it is not a surprise to find it again,” said Bradley Tompkins, infectious disease epidemiologist with the Department of Health. “All the rain we’ve had this year is good for mosquitoes, and that makes it especially important for everyone to do what they can to prevent getting bitten.”

To prevent mosquito bites, officials say wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors, limit time outdoors at dawn and dusk, use safe and effective repellents (EPA.gov), cover baby carriages or outdoor playpens with mosquito netting, and mosquito-proof homes. Fix holes in screens and make sure they are tightly attached to doors and windows, and be sure to always drain standing water from gutters, old tires, wading pools, and other places where mosquitoes can breed.

Information: healthvermont.gov/mosquito; and agriculture.vermont.gov/plant_pest/mosquitoes_ticks/mosquitoes.

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