DPH raises alert for West Nile virus statewide

A Windsor Essex County resident has tested positive as the area's first case of West Nile Virus this year

Dr. Monica Bharel, the state public health commissioner, says conditions are ideal for mosquito species carrying the virus to breed because of the hot and humid weather and frequent heavy rainfall. To date, there have been no reported human WNV cases in MA. Certain population groups (e.g. the elderly, pregnant women, immunocompromised people) are at higher risk of developing a neuroinvasive form of the disease.

'The few cases of West Nile virus diagnosed in the United Kingdom have been due to insect bites overseas and the risk of contracting the infection in this country is low'. If you think you have West Nile virus infection, contact your healthcare provider. The first time was in 2012 when there were 33 human cases of West Nile recorded in the state.

West Nile Virus is transmitted to horses via bites from infected mosquitoes.

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How can I protect myself? The standard response to prevent mosquito breeding in an area with a positive sample of mosquitoes consists of increased spraying and larviciding in the area until trapped mosquitoes test negative for the virus. Identify and remove potential breeding areas on your property - empty saucers under flowerpots; change water in bird baths twice a week; unclog rain gutters; drain tarps, tires, and other debris where rain water may collect; and install a pump in ornamental ponds or stock them with fish. Avoid outdoor activity at peak biting times. Take extra care during evening and early morning hours when mosquitoes are active, or if possible stay inside.

·Use mosquito repellent. Apply mosquito repellent to areas of exposed skin.

Ways to prevent bites include using insect repellents and wearing long-sleeved shirts and trousers. Follow label instructions, and always wear repellent when outdoors. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age.

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