West Nile virus case confirmed in Westport
Published 6:14 pm, Thursday, September 30, 2010
A Westport resident was confirmed as the eighth person in the state to test positive for the West Nile virus (WNV) infection on Tuesday, according to the Westport Weston Health District.
Mark Cooper, the director of health for the district, said, "This does not come as surprise, with mosquitoes testing positive for West Nile Virus in Westport and in towns around us, it was only a matter of time. Conditions have been perfect for mosquitoes to breed and for West Nile Virus to amplify within that population."
Cooper said the Westport resident's case was serious enough to put the person in the hospital, but that was all the information he had.
The health district said almost 80 percent (four out of five) people who are infected with the virus do not show any symptoms. Nearly 20 percent of the people infected display symptoms including a fever, headache, body ache, nausea, vomiting and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. The symptoms typically last for a few days, but some, even healthy people, can become sick for weeks.
"West Nile virus can cause serious illness, especially in people over 50. Although the risk of getting sick from West Nile virus is declining, circulation of West Nile virus in mosquitoes will continue until the first hard frost," said state Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. J. Robert Galvin.
There is further risk associated with the virus. About one in 150 people infected with the virus develop severe illness with symptoms including high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. Symptoms for the serious cases tend to last several weeks and neurological effects may be permanent.
"People over the age of 50 are more likely to develop serious symptoms of WNV if they do get sick and should take special care to avoid mosquito bites," said Monica Wheeler, the director of community health for the Westport Weston Health District. "If you do develop symptoms of severe WNV illness, such as unusually severe headaches or confusion, seek medical attention immediately. The elderly and those with compromised immune systems are most at risk and should limit their exposure to mosquitoes, particularly in the hours around dusk and dawn."
Cooper advised residents to take precautions to prevent bites, such as wearing clothing that covers skin surfaces, using mosquito repellent and eliminating any pool of water that mosquitoes can lay their eggs in around homes and businesses.
The Health District also recommends cleaning house gutters that may retain water, empty wading pools and bird baths every few days, chlorinate swimming pools regularly, make sure covers on grills, boats, pools and other outdoor equipment do not collect water and use repellents as directed by their labels.
West Nile virus has been identified in 23 Connecticut towns. Eight people have tested positive in eight different towns, including Bridgeport, Stamford, Trumbull and Greenwich in Fairfield County.
More information on West Nile virus can be obtained by visiting the Health District's website, www.wwhd.org/west_nile_virus.htm, and the Connecticut Mosquito Management Program website, www.ct.gov/mosquito