There’s good news and bad news about the current mosquito season in Connecticut.
There has been fairly little West Nile Virus circulating in the state. However, another mosquito-borne illness — Eastern equine encephalitis — has been rampant in Connecticut, experts said.
“We’re really dealing with an increase in EEE this year,” said Philip Armstrong, research scientist and director of the mosquito surveillance program at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.
Armstrong said there hasn’t been a human case of the illness in Connecticut, yet, but there have been some in nearby states, including Rhode Island and Massachusetts. One of the Massachusetts cases was fatal, Armstrong said.
A total of at least 47 mosquitoes in Connecticut tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis since testing started in June, which Armstrong said is higher than normal. Meanwhile, 40 mosquitoes tested positive for West Nile, which Armstrong said was low, particularly since last year was the worst West Nile season on record in the state.
Last year, a total of 393 West Nile-positive mosquito samples were collected from 65 sites in 53 municipalities. The state reported 23 human cases of West Nile, and one death — the first since 2006. Most mosquito-borne illnesses cause mild flu-like symptoms in most people, but can lead to more serious illnesses, such as meningitis and encephalitis.
Armstrong said although this summer has seen a bumper crop of mosquitoes overall, there has been a relatively low number of the species of mosquitoes that cause West Nile, culex pipiens.
“It could be that all the rain we’ve been having has flushed (the culex pipiens) out of their breeding habitats,” Armstrong mused.
The most recent mosquito report from the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station showed that, during the week of Aug. 18, 15 mosquitoes tested positive for Eastern equine encephalitis and three tested positive for West Nile (one in Bridgeport and two in North Haven). Armstrong said there may be more Eastern equine encephalitis-positive mosquitoes, but test results aren’t yet final.
The mosquito season likely has a bit more steam left in it, Armstrong said.
“Our numbers are starting to decline, but we’re still way above average,” he said, adding that mosquitoes will likely “continue to be biting well into October.”