State health officials boost West Nile virus risk level to ‘moderate’ statewide

BOSTON (WHDH) - State health officials raised the risk level for West Nile virus from low to moderate statewide Tuesday and urged residents to take precautions.

The decision to raise the risk level — the second time officials have ever raised it statewide — comes as 162 of the 351 cities in towns in Massachusetts are already considered to be at moderate risk for the virus.

To date, there have been no reported human West Nile virus cases in Massachusetts.

“The hot, humid weather in Massachusetts combined with frequent heavy rainfall has provided perfect conditions for mosquito species carrying West Nile Virus to breed,” Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel said in a statement. “I strongly encourage everyone to keep using insect repellant and to be especially aware of mosquito activity at dusk and dawn when the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes is greatest. Move indoors if you are getting bitten.”

When present, West Nile virus symptoms tend to include fever and flu-like illness. In rare cases, more severe illness can occur.

“August and September are the months when most human cases occur,’’ said DPH State Epidemiologist Dr. Catherine Brown. “That’s why we are taking this step today so together we can help keep people from getting sick.”

Health officials would like to remind residents that by taking a few, common-sense precautions, people can help to protect themselves and their loved ones:

  • Using insect repellents
  • Wearing long-sleeved clothing
  • Scheduling outdoor activities to avoid the hours around dawn and dusk
  • Repairing damaged window screens
  • Removing standing water from the areas around your home

For more information, including all WNV and EEE positive results, visit http://www.mass.gov/dph/mosquito.

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