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West Nile Return Brings Warning

Even with mosquitoes testing positive for the West Nile virus in Westport, Mark A.R. Cooper, health director at the Westport Weston Health District, said residents can easily protect themselves from these pesky insects.

"There are several things people can do to reduce their exposure to mosquitoes," Cooper said. "People can wear clothing that covers the skin, they can put on mosquito repellant, and should avoid being outside around dusk or dawn when mosquitoes are most aggressive."

As mosquitoes thrive in wet, damp environments, the Health District also suggests people: eliminate objects outdoors that can hold water, clean gutters so they don't retain water, empty kiddie pools and bird baths every few days, regularly chlorinate swimming pools and cover any outside equipment so it doesn't collect water.

Although it can be a potentially serious illness, West Nile virus sounds more severe than it is, Cooper said. Most infected people — about 80 percent — don't exhibit any signs or symptoms. About 20 percent of people infected show flulike systems, which generally pass within a few days, he said.

According to the website for the federal Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, only about one in 150 people infected with West Nile virus develop a severe illness.

Nevertheless, Cooper advises people to limit their exposure to mosquitoes.

"The elderly and people with weakened immune systems should really be cautious," he said.

Though West Nile virus has no specific treatment, those who develop a serious illness can be treated.

"Their symptoms would be treated," said Loren Pace, a community health nurse at the health district. "Hydration therapy, [intravenous] fluid therapy, respiratory support: these are some possible treatments."

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

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