For Immediate Release: August 5, 2011
Media Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health
BURLINGTON – The Vermont Department of Health announced today that West Nile virus was detected in mosquitoes collected on July 18 from a trap in Brandon.
West Nile is a mosquito-borne virus that is typically spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. No illness in people due to West Nile virus has been confirmed in Vermont since 2003 and no horses have tested positive since 2005. Every summer the state tests dead birds and traps and tests mosquitoes for the virus. The state also helps arrange testing for people or horses with symptoms consistent with the West Nile virus infection.
Although the risk of becoming ill is low, the Health Department recommends that people take precautions to avoid mosquito bites:
- Wear long sleeves and pants and avoid outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are active.
- Reduce mosquito breeding habitats by getting rid of standing water, and by draining areas where water can pool such as rain gutters, wading pools, and old tires.
- Use insect repellents that are safe and effective against mosquitoes. Products with a registration number from the Environmental Protection Agency on the label have been evaluated for safety and effectiveness. Repellents containing DEET in concentrations up to 30%, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535 can be used to prevent mosquito bites.
- Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
There is a vaccine for horses, and horse owners should discuss vaccination with their veterinarians.
Symptoms of West Nile virus are often mild, but can include high fever, muscle aches, headache and fatigue. Approximately 1 percent of people who are infected develop severe illness affecting the central nervous system, which can be fatal.
The Health Department and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets are also on the lookout for another mosquito-borne virus, eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus, which has caused illness in people and horses in bordering states and Quebec. This virus has also been detected in deer in Vermont but is not known to have caused any illness.
For more information on West Nile Virus and EEE, visit the Vermont Department of Health website at healthvermont.gov.
For additional information on mosquitoes visit the Vermont Agency of Agriculture website: http://www.vermontagriculture.com/ARMES/plantindustry/entomology/mosquito/index.html