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West Nile Virus found in mosquitoes at Hanscom

Posted 8/21/2013   Updated 8/21/2013 Email story   Print story


by Capt. Heidi A. Hernandez
66th Medical Squadron Public Health

8/21/2013 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- The Public Health office at Hanscom AFB reports that mosquitoes found on the installation have tested positive for West Nile Virus. Due to this discovery, and the fact that other nearby towns have similar findings, Hanscom's Public Health office, in concert with the installation commander, has decided to raise the WNV alert on the installation to "moderate."

"We currently have efforts in place to mitigate the mosquito population; however, with these new positive findings, we decided to take the action to ensure people are aware of the situation and can take necessary precautions," said Col. Lester A. Weilacher, 66th Air Base Group commander.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health utilizes alert levels to assist with delineating mitigation efforts. A moderate rating indicates there is a potential for WNV infection or one has already occurred.

West Nile Virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito. It can infect people of all ages, but people over the age of 50 are at higher risk of developing severe illness. Most people never know they are infected and do not exhibit symptoms. So far this year, no human cases of West Nile Virus have been reported in Massachusetts.

Areas on Hanscom with large amounts of standing water, marshes, storm sewers and catch basins were treated at the beginning of the mosquito season by Civil Engineering pest controllers with an insect growth regulator larvicide. This interferes with normal metamorphosis of mosquito development, preventing the immature pupae mosquito from emerging as an adult.

In the future, the installation will be looking at performing fogging to combat the mosquito population; however, notifications will be made prior to any spraying. Also, Public Health will continue to trap and test mosquitos weekly.

Personnel can help prevent or lessen the risk of being infected by being prepared. Apply insect repellant when outdoors, although DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age and should only be used in concentrations of 30 percent or less on older children and oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three. Other recommendations are to use mosquito netting on baby carriages or playpens when outdoors, be aware of peak mosquito hours of dusk to dawn and reschedule outdoor activities that occur during that time, and wear long sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors.

You can mosquito-proof your home as well by draining standing water and installing or repairing screen on your doors or windows.

Risk for mosquito-borne illness continues until the first hard frost, which occurs when temperatures fall below 28 degrees for several hours.

For additional information visit www.cdc.gov, www.mass.gov/dph/moquito or contact Hanscom's Public Health Office at 781-225-6259.

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