Case of West Nile Virus Found in Brookline Woman

Health officials told the Boston Globe this case is the 16th confirmed human case of WNV in Massachusetts this year.

[Update: The Brookline Health Department issued a press release earlier today, which we have included below. 3:33 p.m.]

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health confirmed that a Brookline woman in her mid-twenties had the virus. The woman, whose identity was not released, was not hospitalized and has since recovered, Brookline’s Department of Public Health said in a press release. 

In July, WNV was detected in mosquitoes collected in South Brookline near the West Roxbury line. 

The following is a press release from the Brookline Health Department 


State Public Health Officials Confirm Human Case of West Nile in Brookline, the 16th confirmed human case in Massachusetts this year. On September 21, 2012, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) confirmed a human case of West Nile Virus (WNV) in Brookline. The individual in her mid-twenties was not hospitalized and has recovered. The virus continues to be found in mosquitoes at monitoring sites in town.

According to Alan Balsam, Director of Public Health and Human Services, “This points up the need to follow recommendations for self-protection until the first frost”.

West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).
Mosquitoes get WNV and EEE by biting infected birds. People and animals can get these diseases by being bitten by an infected mosquito. There is no evidence that a person can get these viruses from handling live or dead infected birds or animals. However, gloves should be worn when handling any dead animals and double plastic bags used to discard them in the trash.

Most people bitten by mosquitoes carrying WNV will experience no symptoms or very mild symptoms and will recover on their own. Persons over 50 years of age have the highest risk of severe WNV disease. People who are bitten by mosquitoes carrying EEE tend to experience more severe symptoms. Severe symptoms of both diseases include high fever, muscle weakness, headache, disorientation, neck stiffness, paralysis, coma, tremors, convulsions and sometimes death. There is currently no vaccine or medical cure for these illnesses.  In severe casesintensive medical therapy such as intravenous (IV) fluids and nutrition, and ventilator support can be administered in hospitals.

What is Brookline doing to protect me?

The Brookline Department of Public Health is involved in active surveillance for mosquito-borne viruses.  Dead bird reports are no longer collected by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) and dead birds are no longer tested for WNV as MDPH has determined that tracking and testing of dead birds is no longer a useful way to monitor WNV activity.  Mosquito collecting and testing, which provide a more reliable indication of current WNV activity, began in June.  For further information, call the MDPH Information line at 1-866-627-7968.   

Brookline will be doing the following to address mosquito-borne viruses this summer and fall:

  • Larvicide is being applied to targeted catch basins and some wetland areas to prevent hatching of new mosquitoes;Mosquito traps have been established and mosquito pools are being tested for the virus;
  • An information line is established at (617) 730-2295 and at www.brooklinema.gov;
  • Mosquito-borne virus information appears on the Town web site with a link to the State Lab including updated mosquito count and test results;
  • There is inspection and enforcement of standing water areas in parks, fields, tires, etc.;

Spraying to kill adult mosquitoes may be done, only if absolutely necessary, and if recommended by the State. Every effort will be made to notify residents of the spraying beforehand.

What can I do to protect myself?

Avoid Bites! Follow these steps:

  • Avoid outdoor activity between dusk and dawn.
  • If you must be outdoors when mosquitoes are active, wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants and socks.
  • Cover baby carriages or playpens that are outdoors with mosquito netting;
  • When outside, use a mosquito repellent.
  • Repellents that contain DEET are the most effective, although DEET should not be used on infants. This year, the CDC also recommends products which contain either the chemical Picaridin, found in Cutter Advanced; or products containing the oil of lemon eucalyptus.

    Alternatives to DEET that can also be effective for a limited duration (1hour) on the market are: citronella; Avon Skin-So-Soft Plus IR3535; Buzz Away, neem oil, and soybean oil;
  • Avoid areas that tend to have a lot of mosquitoes, such as wetlands or swampy areas;
  • Fix holes in all window and door screens;
  • Remove standing or stagnant water in your yard where mosquitoes are likely to breed. Check your flower pots, wheelbarrows, garbage cans, birdbaths, swimming pool covers, clogged gutters on your house, old tires, etc.;
  • Repair leaking pipes and outdoor faucets;
  • Keep your grass cut short and bushes near your house trimmed so mosquitoes can’t hide;
  • Call the health department if you see standing water problems that are not on your property.

For further information or to report stagnant water (more than 10 days) or other complaints, please call the Brookline Department of Public Health at 617-730-2300.

  1. Brookline Department of Public Health (617) 730-2300 (To report stagnant water or complaints)
  2. Town web site www.brooklinema.gov
  3. MDPH web site www.state.ma.us/dph



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