West Nile virus detected in Holyoke

HOLYOKE — City officials warned residents Thursday that it detected a positive test for West Nile virus in a mosquito sample taken during ongoing monitoring.

The virus is most often spread to people through a mosquito bite.

About 80% of people who are infected do not show any signs of symptoms. For the 20% who do, they can expect their symptoms to possibly include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, swollen lymph glands and skin rashes on the stomach, chest and back. Less than 1% of those infected with develop serious or life-threatening illnesses, including encephalitis or meningitis.

In Massachusetts, 148 people were reported to have the virus between 2011 and 2020, seven of whom died. People aged 50 and over are more at risk of developing a severe illness because of the virus.

People can take many precautions to avoid mosquitos and the virus, including using insect repellent, wearing long sleeves when outdoors and removing areas of standing water around their homes.

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