SPRINGFIELD—Five mosquito pools collected in Springfield have tested positive for West Nile virus at the Vermont Department of Health Laboratory. These are the first positive pools – or group of up to 50 mosquitos of the same species – of the 2018 surveillance season.
The infected mosquitoes were collected by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture and tested at the laboratory as part of an ongoing interagency mosquito surveillance program that helps the state better understand the risk of diseases spread by mosquitoes.
West Nile virus is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Most people who are infected do not become sick, but of those who do, symptoms can include fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea and skin rash.
Fewer than 1 percent of people who are infected become more seriously sick with symptoms like high fever, disorientation, tremors, and even paralysis.
People age 50 and older have the highest risk of severe disease if bitten by a mosquito carrying West Nile virus. While symptoms can be treated, but there is no cure for West Nile virus infection.
In 2017, the Agency of Agriculture trapped and identified over 200,000 mosquitoes that were submitted to the Health Department laboratory to be tested for West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus.
More than 4,000 pools of up to 50 mosquitoes were tested last year, and 89 pools tested positive for West Nile virus.
West Nile virus has been found in every county in Vermont. Since 2011, 11 cases of West Nile virus in Vermont residents have been reported. No human cases have been confirmed so far this year. There were three human cases of West Nile virus reported in 2017.
“Preventing mosquito bites altogether is the most important step people can take to avoid West Nile virus and other diseases spread by mosquitoes in Vermont,” said Natalie Kwit, DVM, the state’s public health veterinarian. “We want to make sure Vermonters know that there are simple steps they can take to keep themselves and their families healthy,” said Kwit.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.
- Limit the time you spend outside at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are more likely to bite.
Use an EPA-registered insect repellant. The EPA has a tool to help find the right repellant for you.
Cover baby carriages, strollers and outdoor playpens with mosquito netting.
- Mosquito-proof your home by fixing holes in screens and making sure screens fit well into doors and windows.
- Get rid of standing water in things like gutters and empty flower pots, which can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. If you have a bird bath, change the water every three or four days.