Mass Dept. of Health reports 1st case of West Nile Virus –


The first case of West Nile Virus this has been reported this season, after a man in his 60s was hospitalized with the illness.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health said the stricken man lives in Middlesex County.

“We have not seen much West Nile virus activity this year,” Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel said. “Still, today’s news is a compelling reminder that we all need to continue to take steps to protect ourselves and our families from mosquito bites.”

The risk of West Nile Virus infection in people remains low in the state, she said.

The virus is spread through mosquito bites. Most people who are infected with the virus will have no symptoms and some may experience a fever and flu-like symptoms. In rare cases it can cause a more severe illness and people over 50 are at a higher risk for becoming seriously ill, she said.

In 2018, 49 people were identified as being infected with virus, Bharel said.

This year the bigger problem has been Eastern Equine Encephalitis, which is also spread by mosquitos and can cause far more serious illnesses and can be fatal. This year there have been seven cases reported in Massachusetts including in a 5-year-old girl in Sudbury and a 60-year-old in Northborough.

“While Massachusetts is seeing a very active season for another mosquito-borne disease, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, this is the first human case of (West Nile Virus),” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Catherine Brown. “We continue to strongly recommend personal precautions to reduce your risk of all mosquito-borne disease.”

On August 29 a horse in Granby was also was infected with the EEE virus. The Department has now confirmed that this horse was stabled in Connecticut. As a result, the towns of Granby, Belchertown, Ludlow, Chicopee, South Hadley have all been reduced to moderate risk.

Other communities including Framingham, Marlborough, Northborough and Sudbury are listed as having a critical risk and Berlin, Boylston, Hudson, Maynard, Stow and Wayland are considered at high risk.

Officials are recommending people avoid being outside from dusk to dawn since they are peak biting times for many mosquitos.

Multiple high schools have rescheduled night football games and other sporting events due to the risk and spraying has occurred in some communities with a critical risk.

People are also advised to use mosquito repellent with DEET and to wear long pants, long sleeves and socks when going outdoors especially at dusk.

Residents are also asked to drain any standing water to prevent mosquitos from breeding. They should also repair any screens to keep mosquitos out of homes.

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