A mosquito infected with the West Nile Virus was detected this week in Weymouth, according to public health officials.
BOSTON, MA — It’s summer, and with summer come the mosquitoes. West Nile virus has been detected in mosquitoes in Massachusetts for the first time this year, health officials said Tuesday. The presence of the virus was confirmed by the Massachusetts State Public Health Laboratory in a mosquito sample that was collected June 20 in the town of Weymouth in Norfolk County.
No human or animal cases of West Nile virus or Eastern Equine Encephalitis have been detected so far this year, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. There is no elevated risk level or risk-level change associated with this finding, but officials want the public to remember how to avoid getting bit and use MA mosquito control when possible.
“The first WNV positive mosquito sample is often identified in Massachusetts during the last week in June,” said DPH Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Catherine Brown. “Risk for human infection generally builds through the season with peak risk occurring in August.”
West Nile virus is usually transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito, according to health officials. In 2017, there were six human cases of the infection in Massachusetts. While it can infect people of all ages, people over the age of 50 are at higher risk for severe cases of the disease. Most people infected with WNV will have no symptoms. When present, symptoms tend to include fever and flu-like illness, according to health officials. In rare cases, more severe illness can occur.
People have an important role to play in protecting themselves and their loved ones from illnesses caused by mosquitoes, Brown said in a statement.
“The tools for prevention include using a mosquito repellent with an EPA-registered ingredient according to the directions on the label, wearing clothing to reduce exposed skin when weather permits, draining standing water to prevent mosquito breeding and repairing window screens to keep mosquitoes out of your home,” she said.
Because the symptoms aren’t always that pronounced, often its people who develop severe illness with West Nile Virus are most often reported. Between 2000 and 2010, 67 people were reported with West Nile Virus infection in Massachusetts. Six of these people died.
According to the State Department of Health, only some 10 percent of people who develop severe illness have died from the infection.
There is no specific treatment for West Nile Virus infections. People with mild West Nile Virus infections usually recover on their own, according to health officials. People with severe West Nile Virus infections almost always require hospitalization.
Avoid Bites! Follow these steps:
Be aware of increased mosquito activity when outdoors between dusk and dawn. If you must be outdoors when mosquitoes are active, wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants and socks. Cover baby carriages or playpens that are outdoors with mosquito netting and get MA mosquito control.
When outside, use a mosquito repellent. Repellents that contain DEET are the most effective, although DEET should not be used on infants. The CDC also recommends products which contain either the chemical Picaridin, found in Cutter Advanced; or products containing the oil of lemon eucalyptus. Alternatives to DEET that can also be effective for a limited duration (1hour) on the market are citronella; Avon Skin-So-Soft Plus; Buzz Away, neem oil, and soybean oil. If you need help selecting a repellent, one useful repellent selector tool is available here.
Avoid areas that tend to have a lot of mosquitoes, such as wetlands or swampy areas or where there might be standing water.
- Fix holes in all window and door screens;
- Remove standing or stagnant water in your yard where mosquitoes are likely to breed. Check your flower pots, wheelbarrows, garbage cans, birdbaths, swimming pool covers, clogged gutters on your house, old tires, etc.;
- Repair leaking pipes and outdoor faucets;
- Keep your grass cut short and bushes near your house trimmed so mosquitoes can’t hide;
- Call the health department if you see standing water problems that are not on your property.
Did you know?
Mosquitoes can begin to multiply in any puddle or standing water that lasts for more than four days. Mosquito breeding sites can be anywhere. Take action to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and neighborhood. Organize a neighborhood clean-up day to pick up containers from vacant lots and parks and to encourage people to keep their yards free of standing water. Mosquitoes don’t care about fences, so it’s important to remove areas of standing water throughout the neighborhood.
Don’t let West Nile Virus affect you. Call AllGreen Lawn, Tree & Shrub Care at (617)-327-5555 (West Roxbury location) or (781)-762-7080 (Norwood location) for quality MA mosquito control.