More Human Cases of West Nile Reported
West Nile Virus-infected mosquitoes have been found in 67 communities from nine counties so far during 2012.
A Newton woman on Wednesday became the fourth confirmed human case of West Nile Virus in the state, according to the Massachusetts Deptartment of Health and Human Services.
Earlier this week, an unidentified Cambridge man in his 70s became Middlesex County's second confirmed case of a human infected by the West Nile Virus this year, according to the state's Department of Health and Human Services.
"The announcement is a compelling indicator that the threat of mosquito-borne illness is widespread, and people should continue taking simple, common-sense steps to protect themselves and their families against mosquito bites," DPH Commissioner John Auerbach said in statement. "Use insect repellant, cover exposed skin, and avoid outdoor activities at dusk and after nightfall when mosquitoes are their most active."
West Nile Virus-infected mosquitoes have been found in 67 communities from nine counties so far during 2012, according to the press release. The first case was an unidentified man from Middlesex in his 60s who was infected in July.
While Lexington and neighboring communities like Winchester and Woburn are still at the "low" risk level, as result of the human cases, West Nile threat levels have been raised to "critical" in Cambridge, "high" in Arlington and "moderate" in Medford and Malden.
West Nile virus cases are up 40 percent since last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Wednesday.
As of Aug. 28, 48 states have reported West Nile virus infections in people, birds or mosquitoes, according to the CDC, with 1,590 cases of human infection — including 66 deaths — reported to the CDC. Of those human cases, 56 percent were classified as neuroinvasive disease, such as meningitis or encephalities, and 44 percent were classified as non-neuroinvasive disease.
Some West Nile prevention tips include (Courtesy of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health):
Avoid Mosquito Bites
- Apply Insect Repellent when Outdoors. Use a repellent with DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-methane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] or IR3535 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.
- Be Aware of Peak Mosquito Hours. The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning.
- Clothing Can Help Reduce Mosquito Bites. Wearing long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.
Mosquito-Proof Your Home
- Drain Standing Water. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by either draining or discarding items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty any unused flowerpots and wading pools, and change water in birdbaths frequently.
- Install or Repair Screens. Keep mosquitoes outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all of your windows and doors.
Protect Your Animals
Animal owners should reduce potential mosquito breeding sites on their property by eliminating standing water from containers such as buckets, tires, and wading pools — especially after heavy rains. Water troughs provide excellent mosquito breeding habitats and should be flushed out at least once a week during the summer months to reduce mosquitoes near paddock areas. Horse owners should keep horses in indoor stalls at night to reduce their risk of exposure to mosquitoes. If an animal is diagnosed with WNV or EEE, owners are required to report to DAR, Division of Animal Health by calling 617-626-1795 and to the Department of Public Health (DPH) by calling 617-983-6800.