The Vermont Department of Health announced last week that five mosquito pools collected in Springfield tested positive for West Nile virus at the department’s laboratory. A pool is a group of up to 50 mosquitos of the same species; these are the first pools to test positive in the 2018 surveillance season.
The infected mosquitoes were collected by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture and tested as part of an ongoing interagency mosquito surveillance program that helps the state better understand the risk of diseases spread by mosquitoes.
West Nile virus is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Most people who are infected do not become sick, but of those who do, symptoms can include fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea and skin rash. Less than 1 percent of people who are infected become more seriously sick with symptoms like high fever, disorientation, tremors, and even paralysis. People age 50 and older have the highest risk of severe disease. Symptoms can be treated, but there is no specific treatment for the virus.
Last year, more than 4,000 pools of up to 50 mosquitoes were tested and 89 pools tested positive for the virus. No human cases have been confirmed so far this year. There were three human cases of West Nile virus reported in 2017.
The DOH said the best way to prevent West Nile is to protect yourself from mosquito bites: wear long sleeves and pants when outdoors; avoid time outside at dawn and dusk when mosquitos are most active; use an EPA-registered insect repellant; protect children and babies with mosquito netting when they are outdoors; mosquito-proof your home; get rid of standing water in things like gutters and empty flower pots, which can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes and making frequent changes to birdbath water.