Stamford at bulls-eye of West Nile virus
STAMFORD -- The Stamford-Greenwich corridor has clinched the unwelcome title of West Nile virus central this year, with residents of the two municipalities representing five of the state's nine confirmed human cases.
Stamford has Connecticut's highest prevalence of West Nile virus in humans and mosquitoes, according to data released last week by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. Three city residents have contracted West Nile and the virus has been detected in 60 mosquitoes trapped in the city. In Greenwich, two people have been diagnosed with West Nile and 17 mosquitoes have tested positive for the virus.
"The Stamford-Greenwich area seems to be a hotbed," said Theodore Andreadis, chief medical entomologist and director of the state's mosquito trapping and testing program. "You have a dense population down there, but obviously also have a high mosquito population. The area produces a lot of these Culex mosquitoes coming out of the storm drains and catch basins that carry this virus."
Stamford Health Director Anne Fountain ordered a second round of larvicide spraying last week, which was performed in 13,000 water basins across the city. The Board of Finance approved a $12,395 appropriation Thursday for the additional mosquito control measure.
"We have three confirmed human cases and you never know this time of year -- we could see more cases," Fountain said Wednesday. "Especially with the cooler temperatures coming, we've been told that the mosquito activity is on a decline, which is really great. But they're still obviously out there and we're watching it very closely and making sure we do everything we can do."
Andreadis said Connecticut has passed the mosquito season's peak, but the warm temperatures indicate the insect's activity will likely continue through the end of October and into early November.
"We've got fewer mosquitoes out there, but we're still finding West Nile in the Greenwich-Stamford area," he said. "We're not entirely out of the woods yet so people should still take precautions."
This year's mild winter, which was followed by a rainy spring and hot summer, created ideal breeding conditions for West Nile virus. Hot temperatures accelerate mosquitoes' development and allows them to transfer the virus more efficiently in a shorter period of time, Andreadis said.
"The most recent cases that have been reported were all acquired during the last week in August when it was really humid," he said. "We knew the risk was high and we've had clear indication for several months. We knew it was coming."
Nine people in Connecticut have contracted West Nile virus in 2012 and none have died, according to the Center for Disease Control. A record-high 2,636 people have tested positive for West Nile virus across 48 states this year, and 118 people have died from the infection.
"This has been a particularly bad year, no question about it," Andreadis said. "This is the most amount of virus that we've ever detected in mosquitoes (in Connecticut) since we've been monitoring dating back to 1999."
Fountain and Andreadis urged residents to continue preventative measures until the first deep frost.
"The high-risk period is always those early evening hours," Andreadis said. "Right now you're talking 6:30, 7 o'clock -- they're going to start biting."
Kate.King@scni.com; 203-964-2263 http://twitter.com/kcarliniking