Third case of West Nile Virus identified in Connecticut

Photo of Peter Yankowski
Mosquito bite, file photo.

Mosquito bite, file photo.

Joao Paulo Burini / Getty Images

A third case of the West Nile virus has been confirmed in Connecticut, state health officials said Friday.

The patient, a Hartford resident, is between the ages of 50 and 59, the state Department of Public Health said in a statement. The patient became ill with encephalitis — inflammation of the brain — in the fourth week of August. Lab tests later confirmed the patient had antibodies to West Nile virus, DPH said.

The patient is recovering, according to the agency.

Two other patients, residents of Bridgeport and West Haven, had previously contracted the disease in August. Both are also recovering, according to DPH.

The virus is most commonly spread to people through mosquito bites, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the U.S.

Most people infected with West Nile show no symptoms, but about 1 in 5 develop a fever along with “headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash,” the CDC says. In about 1 in 150 cases, serious symptoms develop including inflammation of the brain or tissues that surround the brain and spine. Severe forms of the disease can cause permanent effects to the central nervous system, and is more common in older people.

"Historically, August and September are the months of greatest risk for acquiring West Nile virus infection," Acting DPH Commissioner Deidre Gifford said in a statement. She advised residents to avoid being bitten by a mosquito.

Besides the human cases, DPH said the virus has been detected in mosquitoes from 34 towns, according to the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.

“We are seeing a late season surge in the numbers of mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus, especially in coastal Fairfield and New Haven counties and in the greater Hartford area,” Dr. Philip Armstrong, medical entomologist at the CAES, said in a statement. “The risk of West Nile virus is expected to continue until mosquito activity ceases in October.”

The station maintains more than 100 mosquito traps around the state which are then tested in pools for the virus.

The virus is transmitted to humans through mosquitoes. A total of 166 cases of the illness had been reported in the state coming into this year, according to DPH. Four of the cases resulted in death.