State reports 1st human case of West Nile Virus in Middlesex County

State health officials are urging Massachusetts residents to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites after the first human case of West Nile Virus was reported Wednesday.

A Middlesex County man in his 60s was hospitalized after contracting the illness, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

“We have not seen much West Nile virus activity this year,” said Public Health Commissioner  Monica Bharel, MD, MPH. “Still, today’s news is a compelling reminder that we all need to continue to take steps to protect ourselves and our families from mosquito bites.”

No other information was given about the man.

The risk of human infection with West Nile Virus is considered to be generally low throughout the Commonwealth, according to officials.

In 2018, there were 49 human cases of West Nile Virus infection identified in Massachusetts. West Nile is usually transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito.

To stay healthy, officials urge residents to:

Avoid Mosquito Bites

Apply Insect Repellent when Outdoors. Use a repellent with 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 instructions on the product label. DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age and should be used in concentrations of 30% 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 mosquitos. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during the evening or early morning.

Clothing Can Help Reduce Mosquito Bites. Wear long-sleeves, long pants, and socks when outdoors to help keep mosquitos away from your skin.

Mosquito-Proof Your Home

Drain Standing Water. Mosquitos lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitos to breed by either draining or discarding items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty any unused flowerpots and wading pools, and change the water in birdbaths frequently.

Install or Repair Screens. Keep mosquitos outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all of your 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 mosquitos near paddock areas. Horse owners should keep horses in indoor stalls at night to reduce their risk of exposure to mosquitos. Owners should also speak with their veterinarian about mosquito repellents approved for use in animals and vaccinations to prevent West Nile and EEE. If an animal is diagnosed with West Nile Virus or EEE, owners are required to report to DAR, Division of Animal Health by calling 617-626-1795 and to the Department of Public Health (DPH) by calling 617-983-6800.

More information, including all West Nile Virus and EEE positive results, can be found on the Arbovirus Surveillance Information web page at www.mass.gov/dph/mosquitoor by calling the DPH Epidemiology Program at 617-983-6800.

 

 

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