The discovery of a mosquito carrying a deadly virus known as Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or Triple-E, is causing some concern among state researchers.
Researchers caught the insect in one of their research traps in Voluntown last week and it just came back positive for the virus.
The first two mosquitoes of the year to test positive for West Nile Virus were identified in Norwalk last week. It's something researchers said is not unusual.
However, the discovery of mosquito with Triple-E is unusual for this time of year.
"This is the earliest on record that we have ever seen this virus," said Dr. Theodore Andreadis, who is the chief medical entomologist at the state's agricultural experiment station. "When we do detect it, it usually isn't until mid to late August. Sometimes not until September."
Andreadis said the hot and rainy weather we've been experiencing is causing mosquito populations to skyrocket.
"Unfortunately, we're setting up for the perfect storm for the buildup of this virus," Andreadis said. "And that's why it's so important that we maintain the surveillance program and monitor this very, very closely."
Researchers set traps across the state, catching thousands of mosquitoes each day. They're identified and tested for the virus.
Mosquitoes that test positive for Triple-E are usually found in the southeastern parts of the state, but Andreadis said there has never been a confirmed human case in Connecticut.
"Although it is a very rare disease, it's one of the deadliest in North America," Andreadis said. "Generally one in three people who contract the virus will die, and young children under the age of 15 are the most susceptible."
On average, researchers said there are six cases of Triple-E each year in the United States.
Right now, Andreadis said it's too early to tell if there will be an outbreak of the virus this year.
It's important to follow the following steps to protect yourself from Triple-E:
Minimize time spent outdoors between dusk and dawn.
Check that window and door screens are tight fitting and in good repair.
Wear clothing like shoes, socks and long pants when outdoors for long periods of time.
Consider using mosquito repellant.
Until they can be sure Triple-E is no longer a threat, they'll increase trapping and work with neighboring states to communicate about mosquito activity.
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