West Nile Virus (WNV) has been detected in Newton mosquitoes, the City’s Health & Human Services Department announced today. There have been no reports of human infection in Massachusetts so far this year.
Mosquitoes carrying the virus have been trapped in Newton and surrounding areas, so residents should take precautions regardless of which part of Newton they live in.
“West Nile Virus mosquitoes are something we expect to see every summer and fall in this area,” said Linda Walsh, a nurse who is also the department’s Interim Commissioner. “I urge everyone to take steps to prevent disease by using mosquito repellent, avoiding peak mosquito times outside, and emptying standing water around their homes.”
WNV is most commonly transmitted to humans by the bite of a mosquito infected with the virus. While WNV can infect people of all ages, people over the age of 50 are at higher risk for severe infection. Newton residents have contracted the illness in previous years, and some of them have been hospitalized.
“Most people who get West Nile Virus have a mild flu-like illness or do not experience symptoms at all,” Walsh said. “But it can cause severe disease, including high fever, headache, stiff neck and even disorientation or coma in some people.”
Newton’s efforts to address mosquito-borne illness are to treat catch basins where mosquitoes carrying WNV develop and to regularly trap and test mosquitoes to monitor the presence of WNV in the community. Newton participates in the East Middlesex Mosquito Control Project. There are no plans to spray for mosquitoes in Newton.
Here are a few, common-sense precautions people can take to protect themselves and their loved ones from mosquito-borne infections:
• Wear mosquito repellent when outdoors. Use a repellent with DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-methane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] 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% or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age. Permethrin products are intended for use on items such as clothing, shoes, bed nets and camping gear and should not be applied to skin.
• Weather permitting, wear long sleeves and long pants when outdoors during peak mosquito hours (from dusk to dawn)
• Use mosquito netting on baby carriages and playpens outdoors
• Repair window and door screens in your home
• Dump standing water twice weekly
• Be aware of stagnant water on private property (e.g. unused swimming pools)- these should be reported to the Health & Human Services Department
For more information, contact the Department at (617) 796-1420 or visit www.mass.gov/dph/mosquito