NORWALK, CT – Barbeques, beach days…and bug bites? Mosquitoes don’t have to ruin your fun in the sun. This summer, the Health Department urges Norwalkers to “Fight the Bite” and avoid mosquitoes. NHD’s mosquito management program takes a three-pronged approach to help our residents avoid mosquito-borne illnesses like West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE): 1) education, 2) mosquito surveillance, and 3) source reduction.
The best way to prevent mosquito-borne illness is to avoid mosquitoes. You can take some simple steps to reduce mosquitoes around your home and protect yourself. To avoid getting bitten:
• Apply mosquito repellent before going outdoors.
• Cover bare skin with long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
• Avoid the outdoors between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
• Drain stagnant, standing water around your home in places like old tires, birdbaths, wading pools, garbage can lids, and even cans in recycle bins. (Standing water is breeding ground for mosquitoes.)
• Keep gutters and leaders free of debris.
• Install or repair window and door screens to keep mosquitoes out of your home.
• Do not leave swimming pools uncovered without chlorinating and filtering.
The Health Department works with state officials who monitor the mosquito population throughout the state. The CT Agricultural Experiment Station monitors two mosquito trapping locations in Norwalk habitats where mosquitoes breed. This monitoring allows NHD and state officials to gauge the local mosquito population and take appropriate prevention measures based on population estimates.
The Health Department contracts with an outside agency to conduct an annual larvicide program to reduce the mosquito population. In the summer months, workers from All Habitat Inc. apply larvicide to various standing water locations around the city. This application prevents mosquito eggs from hatching.
About West Nile Virus (WNV)
Anyone can be infected with WNV, but according to Connecticut Department of Public Health (CT DPH), most people infected with WNV do not develop symptoms. About 1 in 5 people who are infected develop mild illness, and even fewer (about 1%) infected people develop a serious and sometimes fatal illness. Older adults and individuals with compromised immune systems are at highest risk for serious illness. Symptoms may include fever, headache, body aches, rash, nausea, and swollen lymph nodes. More serious illness can cause high fever, stiff neck, disorientation, muscle weakness, coma, and, rarely, death.
About Eastern Equine Encephalitis
EEE is extremely rare in humans, but it is very serious. CT DPH notes that an average of five cases of EEE occur each year in the entire United States. Since the year 2000, CT has had 5 human cases, and 3 of those people have died. Overall, EEE has a 30%-50% mortality rate and survivors may experience lifelong neurological disabilities. Symptoms (e.g., high fever, headache, tiredness, nausea/vomiting, neck stiffness) usually occur 4-10 days after a bite from an infected mosquito.
About the Norwalk Health Department
Under the direction of the mayor, and with valuable guidance from its six-member Board of Health, the Norwalk Health Department provides a variety of services and programs to fulfill its mission: to prevent and control the spread of disease, promote a healthy environment, and protect the quality of life within its changing community. The Health Department achieved accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) in June 2014, demonstrating that it meets or exceeds national public health standards and commits to continuously improve the quality of the services it delivers. More information is available at www.norwalkhealth.com.