Vermont Identifies First Positive West Nile Virus Sample of 2008 in Mosquito Pool

For Immediate Release: Aug. 1, 2008
Media Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health
802-863-7281

BURLINGTON – The Vermont Agency of Agriculture notified the Health Department today that Culex mosquitos trapped in the Bridport area of Addison County on July 28 have been positively identified as carriers of West Nile virus.

West Nile virus, an infection spread by the bite of an infected mosquito that may cause human illness, is transmitted from infected birds to mosquitoes.

Each year, the State of Vermont conducts a statewide surveillance program that includes trapping and testing mosquitoes, testing dead birds, and testing people who have symptoms consistent with the virus. The Department of Health is testing dead robins, jays, crows, ravens, and raptors for West Nile virus.

“Culex mosquitos prefer to feed on birds rather than people or other mammals, and although we have not had a positive human case of West Nile virus for the past four years, it is important that we notify Vermonters when we identify the first positive sample,” said Patsy Kelso, an epidemiologist with the Vermont Department of Health.

Only one out of five people who are infected with the virus experience symptoms. These symptoms are most often mild, but can include high fever and paralysis. 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.

The Department of Health is reminding Vermonters to:

West Nile virus season peaks in late summer and runs through October. There is a risk of West Nile virus as long as mosquitoes are active.

The Agency of Agriculture will continue to test mosquitoes for the virus, and the Health Department will continue its dead bird reporting program to test for the presence of the infection. Vermonters can call 1-800-913-1139 to report dead birds.

For more information on West Nile virus, visit the Vermont Department of Health website: healthvermont.gov.

###

Return to Top