West Nile Virus Confirmed in Second Greenwich Resident

The Greenwich Dept of Health was notified by the Connecticut Dept of Public Health that another Greenwich resident has tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV).

The individual, between 60-69 years of age became ill in the third week of September with flu-like symptoms (fever, fatigue, headache, etc). This individual is recovering. Currently, this is the seventh case of human WNV infection acquired in CT this year.

“This second case of human illness demonstrates that West Nile Virus presents a serious risk to human health when it becomes intensified in the community. Thus far, mosquitoes infected with the virus have only been isolated from the mosquito collection site located in the Old Greenwich/Riverside area. Therefore, all residents in these areas must
apply personal protection to avoid mosquito bites when outdoors, especially before dawn and dusk.” said Caroline Baisley, Director of Health.

The virus (WNV) is spread to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito, which becomes infected when it bites a bird carrying the virus. WNV is not spread by person-to-person contact or directly from birds to people. General symptoms occur suddenly between 5 – 15 days following the bite of an infected mosquito and range from slight fever, headache, rash, swollen lymph nodes, nausea, malaise and eye pain, to the rapid onset of severe headache, high fever, stiff neck, disorientation, severe muscle weakness, gastrointestinal symptoms, coma or death.

Most people who are bitten by an infected mosquito are able to fight off infection and experience mild or no symptoms at all. Some individuals, including the elderly and persons with compromised immune systems, West Nile Virus can cause serious illness that affects the central nervous system. In a minority of infected persons, especially those over 50 years old, West Nile Virus can cause serious illness, including encephalitis and meningitis. Infection can lead to death in 3 – 15% of persons with severe forms of the illness.

Baisley said the finding of West Nile Virus in both humans and mosquitoes within Greenwich emphasizes the need for immediate personal protection measures against biting mosquitoes during the day and at night.

The following precautions should be taken when outdoors:

• Avoid outdoor activities at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
• Wear long sleeved shirts and long pants.
• When using mosquito repellents with DEET, use the lowest concentration effective for the time spent outdoors (for example, 6 percent lasts approximately 2 hours and 20 percent for four hours) and wash treated skin when returning indoors. Do not apply under clothing, to wounds or irritated skin, the hands of children, or to infants less than two months old.
• Avoid application of repellents with DEET on infants and small children.
• Cover arms and legs of children playing outdoors.
• Cover playpens or carriages with mosquito netting.
• Don’t camp overnight near stagnant or standing water.

Eliminate standing water by:

✓ Getting rid of any water holding containers (old tires, etc).
✓ Rake out puddles and drain ditches, culverts, gutters, pool and boat covers.
✓ Cover trash containers.
✓ Chlorinate your backyard pool and empty wading pools when not in use.
✓ Change the water in birdbaths daily.
✓ Keep grass cut short and shrubbery well trimmed around the house so adult mosquitoes cannot hide there.
✓ Ponds and stagnant water bodies that do not support fish, frogs or other amphibians that eat mosquito larvae may be treated with a biological control agent such as Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (BTI). It is suggested that the Dept of Health or Conservation be contacted when treatment is considered.

The Town of Greenwich Mosquito Management Brochure is available throughout the community and on the Town’s Website www.greenwichct.org.