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West Nile found in mosquitoes in Northampton

  • Mosquitoes collected by Chris Horton, of the Berkshire County Mosquito Control Project, are displayed in Pittsfield, Mass, Aug. 19, 2016. The Berkshire Eagle via AP/Ben Garver



@BeraDunau
Thursday, August 23, 2018

NORTHAMPTON – The city has released a public health notice for people to guard against the West Nile virus, in response to an announcement from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Wednesday that it had collected mosquitoes infected with the West Nile virus in Northampton and across the state.

Although there have been no reported cases of the virus this year in Massachusetts, the release notes that August and September are the highest risk months for the mosquito-borne disease, and that the hot and humid weather combined with rainfall has created an ideal breeding ground for the bugs.

The Department of Public Health is also raising the West Nile virus risk level for every Massachusetts community from low to moderate.

“This has been a fairly regular occurrence,” said Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz. “This time of year especially.”

The city release urges people to take precautions against the disease that include being aware of peak mosquito hours in the morning and evening, wearing light-colored long sleeves and pants and socks when outside, avoiding fragrances and using insect repellent. It also encourages people to mosquito-proof their homes by installing or repairing screens and by emptying bodies of standing water where mosquitoes can breed, including rain gutters and drains.

Most people infected with West Nile experience minor flu-like symptoms, although symptoms can be more severe in those of more than 50 years of age, the press release said. Some of the symptoms of West Nile include vomiting, neck stiffness, high fever, headache, and swollen lymph glands.

Narkewicz said that, to his knowledge, there has never been a human case of West Nile virus in Northampton. Still, he said that people should take preventative steps.

“Be aware of it,” he said. “Take precautions.”

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.