AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) - Two harmful mosquito-borne viruses have just been detected in Hampshire County, for the first time this year.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health says they found mosquitoes carrying Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in Amherst; West Nile was detected in mosquitoes collected in Northampton.
A mosquito sample in Pittsfield also tested positive for West Nile, earlier this month.
No human cases have been reported so far this year, throughout the state. However, that doesn't mean the risks are not there to become infected. Experts recommend taking these steps to protect yourself from mosquitoes:
- Try and avoid outdoor activities during the so-called "peak mosquito hours" (from dusk to dawn).
- If you are outside during those peak hours though, make sure to cover yourself up in long sleeves and pants.
- Get rid of any standing water, since that's where mosquitoes are known to breed.
- Use insect repellant.
How do you know if you're infected by EEE or West Nile virus? Doctors say the symptoms vary for everyone. Most people, who are infected, show no symptoms at all; others experience flu-like symptoms.
Dr. Cristina Blejan of Doctor's Express explained what some of these "flu-like" symptoms include. "You have the headache, visual changes can happen; you'll start vomiting. That's the sign of neurological symptoms", said Dr. Blejan.
Less than 1% actually develop a serious illness, when bitten by an infected mosquito. Unfortunately, there are no vaccines for those affected.
It's important to keep in mind: those who are under age 15 and over age 50, are more vulnerable to the symptoms associated with mosquito-borne illnesses.