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NEW: West Nile Virus Sample Found in Western Mass

Friday, June 29, 2012

 

A mosquito found in Pittsfield has tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV), according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH).

The State Laboratory Institute confirmed the infection Friday in a sample collected June 26. It was the second positive testing in as many days. On Thursday, a positive sample was identified in Boston. There have been no human cases of WNV or Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) so far this
year.

There were six cases of WNV in Massachusetts residents last year.

“West Nile virus positive mosquito pools in both eastern and western Massachusetts serve as a reminder that the virus is present throughout the Commonwealth,” said DPH State Veterinarian Dr. Catherine Brown. “The good news is that there are simple, common-sense steps that everyone can take to protect themselves and their families against mosquito bites and the illnesses they can cause.”

While WNV can infect people of all ages, people over the age of 50 are at higher risk for severe disease. WNV is usually transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. WNV and EEE positive results from the current year are uploaded daily and can be found on the Arbovirus Surveillance Information web page at www.mass.gov/dph/wnv.

Safety Measures

The DPH offers several tips to protect against contracting WNV and EEE:

Avoid mosquito bites - Apply Insect Repellent when 0utdoors. Use a repellent with DEET, permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), oil of lemon eucalyptus 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 percent 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 mosquitoes. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning.

Wear proper clothing - Wearing long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.

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.

More information is available at www.mass.gov/dph/wnv. Information about WNV and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) is also available by calling the Epidemiology Program at 617-983-6800.

 

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