Massachusetts: WNV Risk Continues

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The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced additional findings of West Nile Virus (WNV) that were identified during the past week. WNV was found in crows from Chelmsford, Hadley, Holyoke and Milton. Multiple mosquito samples were positive for WNV from Auburn, Boston, Franklin, Revere, Shrewsbury, Watertown, Weymouth and Worcester.

This year’s fourth mosquito sample infected with Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) was found in Raynham last week. EEE virus positive mosquito samples were previously found in Berkley, Carver and Halifax.

“We continue to urge residents to take personal precautions such as using repellant. It’s not too late in the season for us to see human cases of West Nile Virus or EEE,” said DPH State Epidemiologist Dr. Al DeMaria. “We are still finding lots of WNV in birds and mosquitoes.”

While there weren’t any human cases of EEE during 2007, there were 13 cases with 6 deaths during the last outbreak cycle during 2004 through 2006. In 2007, there were six human cases of WNV in Massachusetts. Both EEE and WNV are usually spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. WNV can infect people of all ages but people over the age of 50 are at higher risk for severe disease. EEE is a generally more serious disease in all ages and can even cause death.

WNV positive bird and mosquito results from 2008 can be found on the Arbovirus Surveillance Information web page at westnile.ashtonweb.com.

People have an important role to play in protecting themselves and their loved ones from illnesses caused by mosquitoes.

Avoid Mosquito Bites

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* 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.

* Clothing Can Help Reduce Mosquito Bites. Wearing long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.

* 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.

Mosquito-Proof Your Home

* Drain Standing Water. Mosquitoes lay their 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 any unused flowerpots and wading pools, and change water in birdbaths frequently.

* Install or Repair Screens. Keep mosquitoes outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all of your windows and doors.

Report Dead Birds

* Dead crows or blue jays may be a sign that WNV is circulating among the birds and mosquitoes in your area. Call 1-866-MASS WNV to report a dead bird. By reporting dead birds, you can play an important role in monitoring WNV.

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