For the last few years, summer in Connecticut has been wrought with a few insect related health alerts that we need to be aware of. Ticks, especially Lyme Disease carrying deer ticks are one, Zika and West Nile virus, transmitted via mosquitos are the others. Last summer alone, 19 Connecticut towns reported mosquitos carrying the West Nile virus, and this summer, the first case that tested positive was discovered a few days ago in Stamford, according to the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. Because of the severity of the symptoms, it’s important to know how you can protect yourself against West Nile Virus and other mosquito carrying diseases, like Zika.
What is West Nile Virus
West Nile virus can cause a serious condition known as West Nile Encephalitis, which is an infection and inflammation of the brain. Originally detected in the West Nile region of Uganda around 1937, it has since spread to many parts of the world, including the United States. In 1999 the first case was detected in NYC. West Nile virus symptoms are often overlooked because they may mimic other diseases such as the flu.
Symptoms of West Nile Virus
- fevers and chills
- swollen glands
- severe headache
- and in extreme cases, altered state of mind
- paralysis and/or
- vision loss
It may be impossible to completely avoid mosquitoes this summer but there are easy steps you can take to reduce your risk of contracting West Nile Virus, by helping to control the growth of the mosquito population, as well as preventing mosquito bites.
Mosquito Control Tips
Your first defense against the threat of mosquitoes is eliminating habitats for breeding. These aquatic insects most often breed in areas of stagnant water. Using the following tips, you can do your part to reduce the mosquito population in your area:
- Drain water from garbage cans, gutters, coolers, toys or any other containers where stagnant water can collect
- Change water in bird baths or flower pots at least twice per week
- Keep grass short and trim shrubs to eliminate hiding places for adult mosquitoes
- Fill in hollow tree stumps and holes with sand or concrete to prevent water collection
- Cover swimming pools or hot tubs when not in use and be sure to keep them properly chlorinated
Mosquito Bite Prevention Tips
- Limit outdoor activity between dusk and dawn: the time of greatest mosquito activity
- Apply DEET* containing mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing, following directions carefully. *Deet carries certain precautions
- If possible, cover bare skin as much as possible with long pants, long sleeves, socks, and covered shoes, especially at dusk, when mosquitos tend to appear.
As of now, there is no cure or vaccine for this very serious condition, and so it is important to avoid getting bitten when at all possible. If you have any of the symptoms listed above and have been bitten by a mosquito you should see a physician right away.
At AFC Urgent Care you can walk right in, no appointment necessary, to either of our walk in clinics: 2 Main Street or 100 Mill Plain Road, where we are there 7 days a week ready to treat you. We accept most insurances.