Greenwich resident tests positive for West Nile
An elderly Greenwich resident has tested positive for West Nile virus and is hospitalized, becoming the fifth person in the state reported to have contracted the virus this year, the state Department of Public Health announced Tuesday.
The person, who is between 70 and 79 years old, became ill in mid-August with a fever, headache and some neurological symptoms, and was hospitalized.
William Gerrish, a spokesman for the state Department of Public Health, said he could not release any further information about the resident, and did not have any word on the individual's condition.
The virus, found in mosquitoes trapped in 42 towns across the state, including Greenwich, was confirmed in two Stamford residents in July and August, in a Bridgeport resident in July and in a New Haven resident in August.
There were nine human cases reported last year, including one in Greenwich and two in Stamford. There were 11 cases in 2010, including one in Greenwich -- an 81-year-old woman battled the illness for three months before recovering.
Theodore Andreadis, director of the state's mosquito-trapping program and chief medical entomologist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven, said the virus built up rapidly very early this year due to the heat wave and the frequent rainfall that created ideal breeding spots for mosquitoes. Luckily, it seems to be on the decline, and the five human cases are below average.
"The overall population has dropped significantly, which is good news," Andreadis said.
Greenwich Health Director Caroline Calderone Baisley stressed that the risk of infection is still there.
"The best message is to continue to be vigilant," Calderone Baisley said. "I think after a while, people become complacent."
People, particularly those 50 and older, are advised to limit outdoor activities between dusk and dawn -- when mosquitoes are most active -- and to wear pants and long-sleeved shirts, as well as mosquito repellent when outside during those times.
Most people are able to fight off the infection, and they experience either mild symptoms, such as headache and fever, or no symptoms at all, according to health officials. The virus can cause serious illness in some people, particularly the elderly.
During the summer, the town treats catch basins on public and private roads, public school grounds and other town property with larvicide, which is reapplied every four to six weeks.
Residents, meanwhile, should make sure to drain items on their property that may have collected water, such as pool covers and birdbaths or containers to catch rainwater used in gardening. If people have standing water that they can't drain, they can buy mosquito dunks, which contain larvae-killing bacteria.
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