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Greenwich Warns Of Dangers With West Nile Virus

GREENWICH, Conn. — After a mosquito carrying the West Nile virus was found nearby in Stamford's Cove Island Park, the Greenwich Health Department is reminding residents of the summertime hazard.

“This is just another chance to educate the public on mosquito prevention,” said Doug Serafin, laboratory director at the Greenwich Health Department.

The Connecticut Agricultural Experimental Station has been setting up traps and testing mosquitoes for the virus since it appeared in the 1990s, Serafin said.

“It's not a big surprise, we know it's present,” Serafin said of the West Nile virus. No human cases have been reported this summer.

Old tires, dirty bird baths, pool covers and anything with stagnant water can encourage mosquito breeding, Serafin said. Residents can protect themselves by remembering that mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk and by applying insecticides containing the chemical DEET before going outside. It is also important to avoid swampy areas and to cover baby carriages with mosquito nets.

The highest risk of exposure comes during August and September, said Michael S. Long, director of environmental services at the Greenwich Department of Health.

In 2011, nine human cases were reported and 163 mosquitoes tested positive in Connecticut.

While only a minority of people experience severe symptoms, the elderly, young children and those with a compromised immune system are most susceptible. It is estimated that just one in 100 people who contract the virus will become ill. But at its most severe, West Nile virus can impair the neurological system and lead to death.

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