WNPR

Connecticut Steps Up Zika Testing

Jul 22, 2016

Connecticut is stepping up efforts to prevent the spread of the Zika virus. State officials met Thursday to announce additional prevention measures. Meanwhile, it’s West Nile season.

The good news is, there have been no Zika cases transmitted by mosquitoes in Connecticut. Dr.Theodore Andreadis, Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven, said they’ve been trapping and testing mosquitoes since June.

"Thus far, we have found no mosquitoes infected with Zika virus," he announced during a press conference.

All confirmed cases so far have been travel-related. But in response to two recent Zika cases in Florida and Utah, where transmission of the virus is still being investigated, state officials announced they’re starting a sentinel system.

They’ll be coordinating with community health centers, hospitals, and emergency rooms to test residents that have not traveled to known Zika infected areas but are exhibiting symptoms of the virus, which has been linked to severe birth defects.

They’re looking to catch any locally-transmitted cases. In the meantime, another mosquito-borne virus has turned up. Dr. Andreadis said West Nile was found in a batch of mosquitoes collected in Stamford.

"To date, in the state of Connecticut, we have had 130 cases of West Nile virus with 3 fatalities. So, it's not something that can be taken lightly," he said. "Last year we had 10 human cases and the hotspot was Bridgeport. I anticipate in the coming weeks, especially with the hot, dry weather that we're experiencing, that there will be a build-up of West Nile Virus."

Health officials recommend getting rid of any standing water near homes, wearing long sleeves and pants during times when mosquitoes are most active, and using insect repellents.