The Massachusetts Department of Public Health Thursday raised the threat level for West Nile Virus in Somerville to high.
The move comes after a Cambridge man in his 70s was confirmed to have West Nile Virus, according to an announcement from the public health department, and a press release from the (see below).
He represents the second confirmed human case of West Nile Virus in the commonwealth this year. The first case, confirmed on Aug. 15, was also discovered in a Cambridge resident, according to the announcement.
The most recent West Nile Virus patient is currently hospitalized, the announcement says.
The Department of Public Health has also raised the threat level to high in Brookline, as well as Cambridge, Arlington, Belmont, Boston, and Watertown.
A "high" threat level means multiple cases are very likely, according to Boston.com.
"Today's 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," said John Auerbach, commissioner of the Department of Public Health.
Below are guidelines from the Department of Public Health for protecting yourself:
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.
More information, including all WNV and EEE positive results from 2012, can be found on the Arbovirus Surveillance Information web page at www.mass.gov/dph/wnv or by calling the DPH Epidemiology Program at 617-983-6800.
The following is a press release from the :
West Nile Virus Detected in Brookline. State raises alert level to HIGH.
On August 23, 2012, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) raised the West Nile Virus (WNV) alert level in Boston and Brookline to moderate from low, due to the finding of multiple batches of WNV positive mosquitoes in Boston near the Brookline line. On July 15, 2011, MDPH confirmed the presence of WNV in mosquitoes collected in South Brookline near the Jamaica Plain line. With that report, we concluded that the virus was present in mosquitoes throughout the Town.
Mosquito-borne viruses are viruses that are carried and spread by mosquitoes. In this part of the country, public health surveillance is done for two mosquito-borne viruses that can cause encephalitis (swelling of the brain) - West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). The period of highest risk of getting either disease can be from late July through the fall.
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 cases intensive 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.