HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The Connecticut Department of Public Health confirmed the state’s second human case of West Nile virus (WNV) in 2023.

Health officials said a Hartford County resident between 50 and 59 years old became ill during the third week of August with West Nile meningoencephalitis, was hospitalized and has since recovered. Lab tests confirmed the presence of antibodies to WNV, health officials said.

“The identification of a Connecticut resident with West Nile virus-associated illness requiring hospitalization emphasizes the potential seriousness of this infection,” Department of Public Health’s Commissioner Manisha Juthani, MD, said. “As we approach the cooler weather, it is important to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Using insect repellent, covering bare skin, and avoiding being outdoors during the hours of dusk and dawn are effective ways to help keep you from being bitten by mosquitoes.”

Mosquito activity peaks at dusk and again at dawn, health officials said.

“We continue to have weather conditions that are favorable for the mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus,” said Philip Armstrong, ScD, a medical entomologist at the CAES. “These mosquitoes are most abundant in urban and suburban areas with dense human populations. We anticipate continued risk for human infection until mosquito activity subsides in October.”

In July, a New Haven County woman between 50 and 59 years old tested positive for WNV and has since recovered.

How to protect yourself

Armstrong said about 20% of people who become infected will have a fever, rash and muscle aches. In more serious cases, it can develop into deadly cases of encephalitis or meningitis.

“Oftentimes, it might just be a fever with a mild or persistent headache a lot of times,” said Dr. Paul Anthony, Hartford Hopital’s assistant director for infectious disease. “What’s comforting data is 1 in 150/200 people will get meningitis that people are worried about at home. It’s not that common, but do we see it? Absolutely!”

The CAES urges residents to protect themselves from mosquito bites and mosquito-borne diseases. They offered the following advice:

  • Minimize time spent outdoors between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Be sure door and window screens are tight-fitting and in good repair.
  • Wear shoes, socks, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors for long periods of time or when mosquitoes are more active. Clothing should be light-colored and made of tightly woven materials that keep mosquitoes away from the skin.
  • Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in an unscreened structure, and protect infants when outdoors.
  • Consider the use of an EPA-approved mosquito repellent and apply it according to directions when it is necessary to be outdoors.

To keep those mosquitoes from breeding around your property, be sure to empty out flower pots, buckets, or anything else that can hold water after each rain storm.

A look at 2022 stats

Last season, WNV was detected in 185 mosquito pools from 24 towns in six counties in Connecticut. Most WNV activity was detected in densely populated urban and suburban regions in Fairfield, Hartford and New Haven counties.

Seven human cases of WNV-related illness were reported with onset dates from Aug. 11, 2022, to Sept. 20, 2022.