West Nile virus detected in Massachusetts for first time this year: ‘Take steps to prevent mosquito bites’


The virus was confirmed by the Massachusetts State Public Health Laboratory in two mosquito samples collected in Quincy. (Department of Agriculture file photo)

West Nile virus has been detected in mosquitoes in the Bay State for the first time this year, according to state health officials who are urging residents to use bug spray when outdoors.

The virus was confirmed on Tuesday by the Massachusetts State Public Health Laboratory in two mosquito samples collected last week in Quincy, the Department of Public Health reported.

“This is about the time of year that we expect to start finding West Nile virus in mosquitoes,” said Public Health Commissioner Robbie Goldstein.

“It is an important reminder that people should take steps to prevent mosquito bites,” Goldstein added. “WNV can cause serious illness and there are simple things that you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones.”

The virus is usually transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. There were six human cases of West Nile virus last year. No human or animal cases have been detected so far this year.

No evidence of Eastern Equine Encephalitis has been found so far this season. There were no human or animal cases of EEE last year.

While West Nile virus can infect people of all ages, people over 50 are at higher risk for severe disease. Most people infected with the virus will have no symptoms. When present, symptoms tend to include fever and flu-like illness. In rare cases, more severe illness can occur.

“This is the beginning of our mosquito season in Massachusetts,” said State Epidemiologist Catherine M. Brown. “From now on, we expect mosquito populations to increase, and we will start to see more of them carrying WNV.

“Use a mosquito repellent with an EPA-registered ingredient, wear clothing to reduce exposed skin, drain standing water, and repair window screens,” Brown added. “We also encourage everyone to make it a habit to check the mosquito-borne disease webpages on mass.gov so you know when and where WNV activity is occurring.”

The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. People are urged to consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during the evening or early morning in areas of high risk.

Also, clothing can help reduce mosquito bites. Wearing long sleeves, long pants, and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.



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