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Elderly Patient With Encephalitis ID'd As First West Nile Case In CT

The West Nile virus is transmitted to people via mosquito bites. Connecticut is reporting the first human case of the virus for 2016.
The West Nile virus is transmitted to people via mosquito bites. Connecticut is reporting the first human case of the virus for 2016. Photo Credit: File

MILFORD, Conn. — An elderly resident of Milford has tested positive for West Nile virus, the first human case identified in Connecticut this season, the Connecticut Department of Public Health announced Tuesday.

The patient, between the ages of 70 and 79, became ill during the fourth week of August with encephalitis and remains hospitalized, DPH said.

Laboratory tests confirmed the presence of antibodies to West Nile. This person did not travel out of the state before becoming ill, DPH said.

"The identification of a Connecticut resident with West Nile virus associated illness that required hospitalization underscores the potential seriousness of infection," said Dr. Raul Pino, commissioner of public health. "Using insect repellent, covering bare skin and avoiding being outdoors during the hours of dusk and dawn are effective ways to help keep you from being bitten by mosquitoes."

Most people infected with the West Nile virus and become sick will have a mild illness that may include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, or a skin rash. Less frequently, people develop severe illness of the nervous system that can also include neck stiffness, disorientation, loss of consciousness, tremors, muscle weakness, and paralysis. Although rare, it can be fatal.

Persons older than 50 years of age are more likely to suffer more severe health consequences.

"We continue to have weather conditions that are favorable for the mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus," said Dr. Philip Armstrong, medical entomologist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment station. "These mosquitoes are most abundant in urban and suburban areas with dense human populations. West Nile virus positive mosquitoes were identified in Milford on Aug. 15."

West Nile virus has been detected in Connecticut every year since 1999. During 2015, 10 confirmed human cases of the virus were reported in six people from Bridgeport, and one each in Fairfield, Milford, New Haven, and Shelton. Infected mosquitoes were trapped in 24 towns.

This year, infected mosquitoes have been trapped in Bridgeport, Darien, Hartford, Newington, Milford, Stamford, Stratford and West Hartford.

The State of Connecticut Mosquito Management Program is a collaborative effort involving the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection, the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, the Department of Public Health, the Department of Agriculture, and the University of Connecticut Department of Pathobiology and Veterinary Science.

These agencies are responsible for monitoring the potential public health threat of mosquito-borne diseases through a network of 91 mosquito-trapping stations in 72 municipalities throughout the state.

For information on West Nile and other mosquito-borne viruses, visit the Connecticut Mosquito Management Program Web site at www.ct.gov/mosquito .

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