West Nile Virus Found In Mosquito In Southern Maine
This time of year, scientists in Maine are always on the look out for West Nile Virus. This year they found it. “We put a trap out, and we get up to 50 mosquitoes in the trap, and we bring those mosquitoes to our lab. And we test them to see what we can find and we identified West Nile Virus in one of those pools,” said Dr. Stephen Sears, the leading Epidemiologist with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.Dr. Sears says it’s no surprise to find it here in Maine. West Nile has been running roughshod over much of the country this summer. “It’s been a very big year for West Nile Virus. New Hampshire has seen quite a bit in mosquitoes, Connecticut has a case, there’s been human cases in New York. Other places in the country, Texas and the mid-south, it’s been very common.”No humans in Maine have ever been diagnosed with West Nile Virus. According to Sears, the closest confirmed case of the virus in a human is in Connecticut. West Nile has two clinical syndromes. One is West Nile Fever which presents with normal flu like symptoms. “Headache, fever, chills, aches, pains,” said Sears. “It does look like a lot of other things but usually, this time of the year, there isn’t any other illness associated with it.”The other syndrome is more severe. “What we’re most concerned about is called neuroinvasive disease. That’s when the virus gets into the central nervous system and causes an infection in the brain”Sears admits avoiding mosquitoes in Maine this time of year is easier said than done, but there are ways to limit your exposure. Mosquitoes typically come out later in the day, so wearing long sleeves and mosquito repellent can help. “Making sure your screens are fixed at your house so they can’t get inside with you. Mosquitoes reproduce in standing water, so if you’ve got a bird bath or you’ve got old pots or something, just empty it out so you’re not giving the mosquitoes a chance to get closer to you.”According to Dr. Sears, there have been around 80 deaths in the United States this year attributable to the West Nile Virus.