The Vermont Agency of Agriculture notified the Health Department this week that West Nile virus was detected in mosquitoes trapped in Westminster in Windham County. This is the first evidence of West Nile virus in Vermont this year.
West Nile virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. The Health Department recommends that people take precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
“Mosquitoes can still be active well into October and there is a risk of West Nile virus as long as mosquitoes are active,” said State Epidemiologist Patsy Kelso. “The first positive mosquito sample is a good reminder for everyone to continue to take precautions to avoid getting bitten.”
The Department of Health is reminding Vermonters to:
* Wear long sleeves and pants and avoid outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are active.
* Reduce mosquito breeding habitats by getting rid of standing water, by draining areas where water can pool such as rain gutters, wading pools, and old tires.
* Use repellents containing no more than 30 percent DEET on adults and no more than 10 percent on children age 3 and older.
* Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
Vermont has had a total of four human cases of West Nile virus detected since the Health Department and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets started a comprehensive surveillance program in 2000. No human cases have been confirmed in Vermont since 2003.
Symptoms of West Nile virus are often mild, but can include high fever. Approximately 1 percent of people who are infected develop severe illness affecting the central nervous system, such as encephalitis or meningitis, which can be fatal.
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