West Nile Virus and EEE Continue to Pose Risks
New EEE positive mosquitoes are found in southeast Massachusetts. West Nile Virus persists in birds and mosquitoes as kids get ready for school.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) announced that mosquitoes from the town of Berkley have tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). Last week, health officials announced that EEE infected mosquitoes had also been identified in the town of Carver.
DPH also announced today that multiple mosquito samples collected during the last week have tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV). The mosquito samples were collected from the communities of Boston, Clinton, Foxborough, New Bedford, Newton, Northampton, Norton, Wayland, Westport and Westwood.
In addition to these mosquito samples, WNV has also been found in crows from Barnstable, Edgartown, East Longmeadow, Longmeadow, Norfolk, North Andover, and Hatfield, and in blue jays from Barnstable, Carlisle, Hampden, Scituate, and Watertown.
“Even though many of us think of Labor Day Weekend as the end of summer, mosquitoes will be around until a hard frost,” said DPH State Epidemiologist Dr. Al DeMaria. “We are still seeing a lot of virus around – in every part of the state. Kids will soon be involved in after school activities during the time of day when mosquitoes are most active, so we want parents and schools to remind young people to cover up and use bug spray to help prevent mosquito bites.”
While there weren’t any human cases of EEE during 2007, there were 13 cases with 6 deaths from 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
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.
More information is available on the DPH website: www.mass.gov/dph/wnv. Information about WNV and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) is also available by calling the DPH recorded information line at 1-866-MASS-WNV (1-866-627-7968), or the Epidemiology Program at 617-983-6800.