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Thursday, August 25, 2016

New Haven wants to protect residents from West Nile virus

NEW HAVEN >> The city is launching a program to help protect seniors from West Nile virus, an effort timed to coincide with the start of September, when mosquitoes infected with the virus are said to be most active, according to a release.
 

Mayor Toni N. Harp said the city’s plan "to protect seniors includes a public awareness campaign supplemented with a proactive approach to minimize seniors’ exposure to mosquitoes in the first place. The plan is focused on the city’s three senior centers; each will have public health information available as well as a supply of free mosquito" repellant," the release said.

"We’re asking you to make West Nile (virus) a priority in the next few days so we can keep West Nile Virus on the back burner for the rest of the summer," Harp said in the release. "It’s no secret that mosquitoes carry the virus, and this next month or two are when those virus-infected mosquitoes are said to be most active, so we have to eliminate or repel those mosquitoes."

West Nile virus has made its way into New Haven County and scientists have found mosquitoes in West Haven are carrying the virus, officials at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station said in a recent release.

Paul Kowalski, of the city’s Health Department, designed a public information campaign to raise awareness about mosquitos and ways to protect yourself from bites.

The city will distribute pamphlets on mosquitos and will give out mosquito repellant at each of the city’s three senior centers while supplies last, he release said..

"Let’s get everybody completely educated on avoidance of mosquito bites," Kowalski said Thursday in a phone interview.

Kowalski noted that for the past two months city public works crews have been putting larvacide down almost 4,000 New Haven catch basins. The larvacide is placed into catch basins that contain standing water, he said.

Among other tips are: to use insect repellant correctly, to remove or reduce standing water around property, and to wear long-sleeve shirts and pants and shoes while outside.

West Nile virus can infect both animals and people, according to the Connecticut Mosquito Management Program. Symptoms can include fever, rash, headaches, and nausea. More severe cases can lead to stiff neck, disorientation, muscle weakness, and even coma or death.
 

For more information, call the New Haven Health Department’s Bureau of Environmental Health at 203-946-8174.