The state’s first round of mosquito testing has revealed none with West Nile Virus or Eastern Equine Encephalitis, though some tested positive for a less-discussed mosquito-borne illness.
The state began its annual trapping and testing of mosquitoes June 1.
According to the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, which runs the state’s mosquito program, 7,561 mosquitoes were trapped and tested between June 1 and June 4. Mosquitoes trapped last week are still being tested, said John Shepard, assistant scientist with the CAES.
Of those tested so far, none was positive for West Nile or EEE, but three tested positive for Jamestown Canyon Virus, an emerging mosquito-borne illness first detected in Colorado in 1961. Shepard said it isn’t unusual for disease activity to be light this early in the mosquito season, which can run until late October or early November.
“We typically start to see WNV activity in mosquito samples starting in mid-July and EEE typically identified in mosquitoes starting in mid-to-late August,” he said.
Though West Nile is typically the state’s dominant mosquito-borne illness, last season was a particularly bad one for EEE, with four human cases in Connecticut, three of them fatal.
According to the state, it’s rare to get that many human cases of EEE in one season. On average, six human EEE cases are reported nationwide every year.
In most cases, those with a mosquito-borne disease get mild, flu-like symptoms, but, in some cases, they can develop a serious illness, such as meningitis or encephalitis.
It’s too early to know whether Connecticut will see a repeat of last year’s deadly EEE season, Shepard said.
“Right now, our collections have been below normal for the first two weeks of June, which may be attributed to the relatively low amounts of precipitation that has fallen in May and early June,” he said. “However, weather conditions can change throughout the summer, and we will continue to monitor WNV and EEE activity closely.”
In the meantime, residents can protect themselves from mosquito-borne illness by getting rid of any standing water on the property — which can accumulate in plastic wading pools, trash can lids and the like — as they can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Other prevention measures include using mosquito repellent and staying indoors in the early morning and early evening when mosquitoes are most active.