State announces season’s first human case of West Nile Virus | News


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(photo MGN-Online) 

BOSTON (WGGB/WSHM) — State officials have announced the first human case of West Nile Virus for the 2021 season.

The Mass. Department of Public Health said that a woman in her 80s was likely exposed to the virus in Middlesex County. 

Middlesex County, the greater Boston area, and several communities in Bristol and Worcester Counties are currently in a moderate risk for human infection.  Mass. DPH noted that there are no risk level changes as a result of this human case.

“This is the first time that West Nile virus infection has been identified in a person in Massachusetts this year…Risk from West Nile virus has been slow to increase this year. This is an important reminder that we all need to continue to take steps to protect ourselves and our families from mosquito bites,” said acting Mass. Public Health Commissioner Margret Cooke in a statement.

There have not been any deaths from West Nile Virus this year.

West Nile Virus can be transmitted to humans through a bite from an infected mosquito.  Most people infected with West Nile have no symptoms, but when present, symptoms can include flu-like illness and fever.  In rare cases, more serious illness can occur.

Mass. DPH offered the following information on avoiding mosquito bites:

  • Apply Insect Repellent When Outdoors. Use a repellent with an EPA-registered ingredient (DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-methane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] or IR3535) according to the product label instructions. DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age and should be used in concentrations of 30 percent or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age.
  • Be Aware of Peak Mosquito Hours. The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning in areas of high risk.
  • Wear Appropriate Clothing to Help Reduce Mosquito Bites. Wearing long sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.
  • Drain Standing Water. Mosquitoes lay eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by either draining or discarding items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty unused flowerpots and wading pools and change the water in birdbaths frequently.
  • Install or Repair Screens. Keep mosquitoes outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all windows and doors.
  • Protect Your Animals. Animal owners should reduce potential mosquito breeding sites on their property by eliminating standing water from containers such as buckets, tires, and wading pools – especially after heavy rains. Water troughs provide excellent mosquito breeding habitats and should be flushed out at least once a week during the summer months to reduce mosquitoes near paddock areas. Horse owners should keep horses in indoor stalls at night to reduce their risk of exposure to mosquitoes. Owners should also speak with their veterinarian about mosquito repellents approved for use in animals and vaccinations to prevent WNV and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). If an animal is suspected of having WNV or EEE, owners are required to report this to the Department of Agricultural Resources, Division of Animal Health by calling 617-626-1795, and to the Department of Public Health by calling 617-983-6800.

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