The first pool of mosquitoes tested positive for West Nile virus in Colchester this year. So far, 26 pools throughout Vermont have tested positive for WNV, and none have tested positive for Eastern equine encephalitis.

“The percentage looks high compared to previous years, but I think we’re right on target with what we’re usually seeing for the season,” said Natalie Kwit, state public health veterinarian. “We’re not overly concerned.”

Every year between June and October, the Vt. Dept. of Health tests mosquito pools, or groups of one to 50 mosquitoes of the same species at the same location and on the same date, on a weekly basis for WNV and EEE. The results are posted publicly on the agency’s website, and public outreach is conducted when either virus is detected.

“Our arbovirus public health officer calls each town health officer every time there’s a positive or multiple positives in a testing week from that town,” Kwit explained.

She said the department is working on new public outreach as well.

“We’re providing [towns] with language to provide in their local newsletters and Front Porch Forums, just to help make sure everyone knows how to protect themselves,” she said.

Kwit said the best way to avoid contracting WNV or EEE is to prevent mosquito bites in the first place.

“Wearing EPA-registered insect repellents when [you] go outdoors and long sleeves and long pants, especially during dawn and dusk,” Kwit suggested. “Make sure to remove standing water around the home, which can create sites for breeding mosquitoes and make sure your screens are all in tact.”

So far, a total of 1,262 mosquito pools have been tested around the state. No human or animal cases of either WNV or EEE have been reported.