An unidentified man from Middlesex County is this year's first person to be infected by the West Nile Virus in Massachusetts, according to the state's Department of Health and Human Services.
The man is in his 60s and lives in a community north of Boston, according to a press statement from the Department of Health and Human Services Aug. 15. The man was diagnosed with West Nile Virus in late July, the statement said; he remains hospitalized but is recovering.
Testing conducted on July 24 found the virus in mosquito pools in Medford, Malden and Melrose, according to state data. It is the second consecutive year the virus was found in Medford and Melrose. The virus was found in mosquitoes near the Stoneham-Melrose border last year, while the virus was discovered in mosquito pools near Ravine Road.
Mosquitoes infected by the virus have been found in 48 communities and nine counties in Massachusetts so far this year, according to the statement.
As result of the human case, West Nile threat levels have been raised to "moderate" in Arlington, Belmont, Cambridge, Somerville, and Watertown, according to the statement. Medford's threat was already previously moderate, according to DHHS data.
The following prevention tips are courtesy of the Department of Health and Human Services.
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.
For more information, including all WNV and EEE positive results from 2012, visit the Arbovirus Surveillance Information website or by call the DPH Epidemiology Program at 617-983-6800.