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Resident Contracts West Nile Virus

A Westport resident is the state's eighth person to test positive for West Nile Virus, said Mark A.R. Cooper, health director for the Westport Weston Health District, Wednesday.

"This does not come as surprise, with mosquitoes testing positive for West Nile Virus in Westport and in towns all around us it was only a matter of time," Cooper said in a release. "Conditions have been perfect for mosquitoes to breed, and for West Nile Virus to amplify within that population."

In an earlier interview with Cooper, he said that in most cases when people are infected with West Nile — about 80 percent — they don't exhibit any signs or symptoms. About 20 percent of people infected show flu-like symptoms. Though they generally pass within a few days, the symptoms can last for several weeks, he said.

Only about one in 150 people infected with West Nile virus develop a severe illness with symptoms that can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent, Cooper reported.

Monica Wheeler, director of Community Health at the Health District, said people with compromised immune systems and those over 50 are more likely to develop serious symptoms of West Nile if infected. As a result, these people should take extra care to avoid mosquito bites, especially in the hours around dusk and dawn.

"If you develop symptoms of severe [West Nile virus] illness, such as unusually severe headaches or confusion, seek medical attention immediately," Wheeler said.

Cooper said residents can reduce their exposure to mosquitoes by simply wearing clothing that covers the skin, using mosquito repellants, and eliminating any pools of standing water around their home or business where mosquitoes can lay their eggs.

More information about West Nile virus can be found on the Health District website or the Connecticut Mosquito Management Program website .

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