West Nile cases reported in Massachusetts

  • Published
  • By 66th Medical Squadron Public Health
HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Officials from Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced Aug. 27 the fourth human case of a West Nile virus infection this year.

According to health officials, two of the four cases were in the greater Boston area, with the most recent case being from Middlesex County.

Based on the confirmed cases this year, state officials raised the risk level from moderate to high for the following communities: Arlington, Boston, Belmont, Brookline, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Medford, Newton, Somerville, and Watertown.

There were six human cases reported throughout the Commonwealth in 2017.

What is West Nile Virus? West Nile Virus is a vector-borne disease commonly transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. Infected birds that develop high enough levels of the virus in their bloodstream pass the virus to mosquitoes once bitten. These infected mosquitoes may also bite other mammals such as humans. However, humans who do become infected are not able to transmit the virus. Mosquitoes that carry the virus are most active between dusk and dawn. There are currently no medications or vaccines to prevent the virus.

What are the Signs & Symptoms? According to the Center for Disease Control, 70 to 80 percent of people infected with the West Nile Virus do not develop any symptoms. About one in five people who are infected develop signs and symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. Some of the more severe neurological illness can include high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures or paralysis.

Contact a healthcare provider if symptoms are present.

How can you protect yourself from Mosquitoes? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with The Massachusetts Department of Health, recommend the following protective measures:

- Apply insect repellent that contains DEET when outdoors.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants from dusk to dawn.
- Remove standing water from around yards and homes.
- Make sure windows, doors and screens fit tightly without holes.
- Treat clothing with permethrin or purchase pretreated clothing.

For more information on West Nile Virus, contact Public Health at 781-845-6295 or visit www.cdc.gov/westnile/index.html or www.mass.gov/dph/mosquito.