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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Health Director on West Nile: ‘Don’t Panic, Take Precautions’

By James Lomuscio

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station’s (CAES) announcement Tuesday that a West Nile Virus (WNV) infected mosquito was found in Westport comes as no surprise to Mark Cooper, director of the Westport Weston Health District (WWHD). WestportNow.com Image
Mark Cooper: “It happens every year.” File photo

“It’s not unexpected,” Cooper said. “There’s no reason to panic because it happens every year.”

He added that the mosquito captured from a CAES collection point July 18 on North Avenue, one of two collection stations in town, “is the bird biting mosquito.”

“So, it takes a bit of time for it to jump into the mosquitoes that predominantly bite humans,” Cooper said. “But it will happen, and it will happen before the end of the summer.”

According to the CAES, Westport was one of four Connecticut towns to turn up WNV infected mosquitoes, which had been captured from July 12 through July 19. The CAES maintains a network of 91 mosquito-trapping stations in 72 municipalities throughout the state. Locally, there are two in Westport and one in Weston.

Cooper said that this season’s high temperatures coupled with rain has been a boon to mosquito populations.

“Take a look at your yard and make sure you have no standing water,” Cooper said. “The mosquitoes that have West Nile can breed in the smallest amount of water, even bottle cap size.”

He also suggested changing the water in birdbaths “every couple of days to a week.”

“And if you have a pool, make sure your chlorine residual is up there, the amount that stays in the pool all day long,” Cooper said.

He also pointed out an overlooked mosquito breeding ground, clogged roof gutters, “the one thing people don’t think of.”

“Have your gutters cleaned,” he said. “It’s just good maintenance anyway.”

In addition, Cooper offered standard advice as the mosquito season continues: avoid being outdoors during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active feeding; use mosquito repellants; and wear long pants and sleeves in areas where mosquitoes are active.

“The people biting mosquitoes will pick it up over time,” Cooper said. “It’s going to happen.”

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Posted 07/26/17 at 05:10 PM  Permalink



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