Mosquitoes in Connecticut test positive for rare but serious virus


Health officials in Connecticut say a rare but serious virus has been detected in mosquitoes in the southeastern part of the state for the first time this year. 

The Connecticut Department of Public Health recently announced mosquitoes trapped in the Pachaug State Forest in Voluntown on Sept. 23 tested positive for eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus, which is spread by the infected insects. Mosquitoes acquire the virus by feeding on infected birds. 

While the virus is typically found in mosquitoes that feed on birds, tests conducted by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station turned up infected mosquito species known to bite people and horses. 

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“We encourage residents of southeastern Connecticut to take simple measures such as wearing mosquito repellent and covering bare skin, especially during dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active,” DPH Commissioner Manisha Juthani said in a release. 

“While the detection of EEE virus is of concern, it is important to remember that we do not expect to see a lot of mosquito activity in the month of October,” Juthani said. 

The virus can cause mild symptoms such as fever and joint or muscle pain in humans. Severe cases of infection can be deadly, resulting in swelling of the brain or meningitis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Most people who become infected develop no symptoms. 

EEE virus is transmitted through mosquito bites and does not occur directly from person-to-person. The CDC says just 5 to 10 cases of the virus are reported each year, with most cases reported in Atlantic or Gulf Coast states. 

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