Mosquito Pool Tests Positive for West Nile Virus

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: September 17, 2004

Contact: Jon Turmel
Vermont State Entomologist
Vermont Agency of Agriculture
244-4510

Dr. Patsy Tassler
Epidemiologist
Vermont Department of Health
863-7240

BURLINGTON - The Vermont Agency of Agriculture announced today that a mosquito pool in the South Burlington area has tested positive for the West Nile virus. The pool was collected on August 10, and contained mosquitoes of the Culex species, which can be carriers of the virus.

There have been no confirmed human cases of West Nile virus in Vermont during 2004. Two birds collected in Chittenden County on August 6 of 2004 tested positive for the virus.

“The discovery was made by using the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test,” said State Entomologist Jon Turmel, “This is a very sensitive test that can detect West Nile virus genetic material in a pool of mosquitoes.”

West Nile virus surveillance in Vermont is jointly coordinated by the Agency of Agriculture and the Vermont Department of Health. As part of this surveillance program, the state tests dead birds, traps and tests mosquitoes, and tests people and horses that have symptoms consistent with the virus.

“Doing this type of surveillance allows us to keep track of how active West Nile virus is in Vermont, and where it is concentrated,” said Health Department Epidemiologist Dr. Patsy Tassler.

West Nile virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. The Health Department recommends that people limit their outdoor time at dawn and dusk, wear long sleeves and pants when possible, and use an insect repellant that contains DEET – carefully following the manufacturer’s instructions. Never use DEET on infants.

It is important that Vermonters drain areas where water can collect such as old tires, rain gutters, bird baths, and any other containers that can hold water.

Vermonters are urged to report dead birds by calling 1-800-913-1139 or their local district health office (8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. weekdays). Department staff will collect and test some of the birds for its West Nile virus surveillance efforts.

More information about West Nile virus can be found at the Vermont Department of Health website www.HealthyVermonters.info .