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Mosquoitoes Carrying Potentially Deadly Virus Now Found In Connecticut

September 13, 1996

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ First it was Rhode Island, and now mosquitoes carrying a potentially deadly virus have been found in two towns across the border in Connecticut, the governor announced Thursday.

Gov. John Rowland said the finding of mosquitoes with Eastern equine encephalitis in Stonington and North Stonington was expected and not a cause for alarm.

``We don’t want to infer that there’s any sense of emergency,″ Rowland said.

Mosquitoes from four different groupings tested positive for the disease, but health officials said none of the species frequently bite humans.

At the Rhode Island swamp that officials call the source of the virus, some of the species are known to frequently bite humans.

Rhode Island health authorities notified their Connecticut counterparts Sept. 5 that infected mosquitoes were discovered in a Westerly, R.I., swamp about three miles from the Stonington border.

In response, Connecticut officials began using trucks to spray insecticide around swampy areas in Stonington and North Stonington.

The Connecticut mosquitoes were collected before ground spraying was done and tests results were due next week on mosquitoes trapped after ground spraying. For now, aerial spraying is not planned.

Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Almond declared a state of emergency in Westerly last week after the virus was found in one of every 100 mosquitoes. A few other Rhode Island towns have also seen infected mosquitoes, but not as many as Westerly. Aerial spraying began in Westerly last week and school officials canceled classes Wednesday amid fears that children could be harmed by insecticide.

Encephalitis, a rare neurological virus, kills about half the time and can cause brain damage in survivors. In the 40 years records have been kept, about 150 deaths nationwide have been blamed on Eastern equine encephalitis, including four in Rhode Island.

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