Wet Summer Raises Risk Of Mosquito-Borne Illnesses In October

With mosquito levels at the highest in 20 years, three mosquito-borne illnesses are most dangerous to humans in October after being passed from birds to mosquitoes over the summer months. This year, the first report of Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) occurred Sept. 23 in mosquitoes trapped in Voluntown, in southeastern Connecticut, as part of the state’s surveillance program. EEE is rare but kills one-third of those who catch it, according to the state Department of Public Health. Two years ago, three out of four people who caught EEE in Stonington died.

Medical Providers Are Taking Nature Therapy Seriously

Schools were closed and online learning was in full swing last March when a teenager and her mom arrived at Fair Haven Community Health Care in New Haven. The girl had been experiencing chest pains and her worried mother thought she should go to the emergency room, recalled Amanda E. DeCew, a Fair Haven clinic director and pediatric nurse. The girl “was spending her entire day inside and had been inside for like two weeks,” DeCew said. “But the more we got into her symptoms, the more I really felt like this was anxiety and nothing that she needed to go the emergency room for.”

But DeCew also knew that some kind of medical intervention was needed. “I’m going to write a park prescription for you,” she told the girl.

Beyond COVID-19: Waste Testing A Vast Public Health Frontier

As scientists measure the prevalence of COVID-19 in the sludge flowing from New Haven sewage treatment plants, they’re also finding that our biological waste can tell them much more about our collective pathologies. Between March 19 and June 30, a group of scientists tested waste that had previously been used to detect COVID-19, looking for drugs and chemicals. The researchers found significant increases in three opioids, four antidepressants, and other chemicals in sludge from New Haven. The analysis, by scientists from the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) and Yale University, offered the first glimpses of how the pandemic’s stay-at-home orders affected people’s behavior. It also underscored how important human waste can be as a resource for understanding public health and society’s habits.

State’s Efforts To End Use Of Toxic Firefighting Foam Slowed During Pandemic

The call came into the Lisbon fire department at 3:07 p.m. on Sept. 9: A vehicle was ablaze at a home on Bundy Hill Road. By the time the fire truck reached the scene, the flames had spread from the car to the side of the home and were moving rapidly. Firefighters immediately began spraying a fire suppression foam containing hazardous chemicals known as PFAS and had the blaze out within minutes. The homeowners were warned not to use or drink their well water, fearing the shallow well was likely contaminated by the toxic foam.

Wildfire Smoke Likely To Have Increasing Impact On Health Of Those Already At Risk

Connecticut’s weather on May 25, 2016, was hotter than usual for that time of year, reaching a high of 91 degrees. The winds were out of the northwest at about 10.5 mph and state air pollution officials weren’t expecting anything unusual. Then the state’s air pollution monitoring network went ballistic. Ozone sensors across Connecticut began recording “off-the-chart readings,” Paul Farrell, the director of air planning at the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, recalled. State experts were shocked.

A Dangerous Mix: High Ozone Levels And Obesity

For the 29% of Connecticut adults who live with obesity, summer brings a difficult form of air pollution. Ground-level ozone is the colorless, odorless gas formed when auto exhaust reacts with sunlight at temperatures above 80 degrees. Ozone can be dangerous for people who have higher body mass indexes. If the pandemic shutdown were now, those with obesity and others who suffer from the adverse effects of ground-level ozone might have caught a break. Officials know that other forms of pollution dropped significantly during the early spring.

So Far, Colebrook Residents Elude COVID-19

The sleepy town of Colebrook has no traffic lights, no police department, no public sewer or water system and no confirmed cases of COVID-19. “Knock on wood,” said Colebrook Board of Finance Chair James Millar. “I think we’re lucky. I wouldn’t say that we are doing anything that’s not being done by the rest of the state.”

On the Massachusetts border in Litchfield County, Colebrook is among eight small towns in the western and eastern portions of Connecticut that so far have not had a resident test positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, which has killed hundreds of thousands worldwide. Litchfield County had 446 confirmed cases and 24 deaths as of Monday afternoon.

Staying Home: Nice Work If You Can Get It

When it comes to the worldwide spread of the coronavirus, people like Leo Laffitte are on the front lines. Laffitte isn’t a health care provider. He works in facilities at Hartford Public Library and, amid the coronavirus pandemic, Laffitte is one of those workers whose jobs require he be physically present and in close contact with a variety of people, with no opportunity to work remotely, as so many employers have advised their workers to do. (Update: On Friday, the library announced it will close through March 31.)

There is another class of employees whose members are even more vulnerable. While health authorities tell people to stay home if they feel sick in the face of COVID-19, that advice is complicated for low-wage earners, of whom two-thirds are women, or for another overwhelmingly female group of workers such as certified nurse assistants and teaching assistants.

Tracking Types Of Terrain That Harbor Disease-Carrying Ticks

On a sunny, cool day as fall gave way to winter, a team of biologists and technicians dragged white cloths through the underbrush at Lord Creek Farm in Lyme. They were looking for blacklegged ticks, which carry Lyme disease and four other deadly illnesses. As ticks attached to the cloth, the team counted them and put them in jars for further study at their lab at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven. Japanese barberry bushes grew thickly beneath the trees at this private horse farm that for years has cooperated with Lyme disease researchers. As the group dragged cloths, they noticed ticks on each other’s pant legs and coats, and began to pick them off.