West Nile Virus arrival causes state to recommend avoiding ‘peak biting times’


State House News Service
Published: 9/2/2021 10:09:35 AM

BOSTON – A woman in her 80s has this year’s first human case of West Nile virus in Massachusetts and was likely exposed to the virus in Middlesex County, the Department of Public Health said Wednesday.

“Risk from West Nile virus has been slow to increase this year,” Acting Public Health Commissioner Margret Cooke said. “This is an important reminder that we all need to continue to take steps to protect ourselves and our families from mosquito bites.”

The department said it considers the current risk of human infection with West Nile virus to be moderate in the greater Boston area and in several towns in Bristol and Worcester counties.

Health officials recommend that people take steps to avoid mosquito bites, including applying insect repellent with DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535, wearing long sleeves, full-length pants and socks outdoors, and considering rescheduling outdoor activities that would occur from dusk to dawn, “peak biting times for many mosquitos.”

Five human cases of West Nile virus infection were identified in Massachusetts last year. The DPH said that the recent hot weather and substantial rainfalls in July have resulted in an increase in the population of a species of mosquitos that is known to spread West Nile and breed in places where standing water accumulates.

The department recommends draining standing water around homes, along with installing or repairing screens to keep mosquitos from getting inside.

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