So far this summer, mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus have been detected in four Vermont communities: Springfield, Hartford, Putney and Montpelier.
While no infected mosquitos have been identified in Pittsford this year, that town has undertaken a new mosquito larva surveillance program.
The Pittsford surveillance program is a step back from a mosquito management plan voters approved on Town Meeting Day, in March when they approved establishing a mosquito larvacide program at a cost to the town of $10,000 per year.
But according to the town's summer newsletter, Pittsford officials learned the state will not help pay the additional costs of larvacide spraying without data to justify the need. The newsletter states:
The State requires solid data before it makes funding (generally 75% of the cost) available for larvacide applications. This summer, therefore, Pittsford is working with the Brandon-Leicester-Goshen-Salisbury Mosquito District to collect the needed data. Hopefully, next year will see the application of larvacide in Town.
Eastern equine encephalitis tends to emerge later in the season, and has not been detected in Vermont so far this summer. The testing is part of the state's Arbovirus Surveillance and Response Plan.
With the discovery of West Nile Virus-carrying mosquitoes in Vermont again this summer, the Vermont Department of Heath recommends taking the following precautions:
- Limit your time outside from dusk to dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
- Wear long sleeves and long pants when outdoors while mosquitoes are biting.
- Use insect repellents that are labeled as effective against mosquitoes. Use repellents containing no more than 30 percent DEET for adults and children. Do not use DEET on infants younger than 2 months of age.
- Get rid of standing water, and drain areas where water can pool: rain gutters, wading pools, old tires, etc.
- Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
West Nile virus and EEE are spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. In recent years, West Nile virus been detected in every county in Vermont.
According to the Department of Health's website, "Symptoms of West Nile virus are often mild, but can include high fever. Approximately one percent of people who are infected develop severe illness affecting the central nervous system, such as encephalitis or meningitis, which can be fatal."
Vermont increased its mosquito surveillance program after two fatal human cases of EEE in 2012. The disease is rare, but health department statistics say one-third of those developing encephalitis die from the disease.