EAST LONGMEADOW, Mass. (WWLP) – A mosquito found in East Longmeadow has tested positive for the West Nile Virus, remaining at moderate risk for the town Friday.
According to the town’s website, East Longmeadow had its first positive mosquito for West Nile Virus (WNV) in a sample collected on August 30. East Longmeadow is at a moderate risk which means infection with WNV is likely or has already occurred.
Several other communities including Chicopee, Agawam, Springfield, and Longmeadow are also considered at moderate risk.
“You know, we go walk early, and we are home by dusk, we just kind of stay in, kinda spray a little in the yard and spray on us,” said Joe Imelio of Easthampton.
Residents are urged to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites.
The Town of East Longmeadow issued the following tips to protect yourself:
- Wear an EPA approved mosquito repellent
- Wear long sleeves and long pants when the weather permits
- Use mosquito netting on baby carriages and playpens
- Dump standing water twice weekly
What is West Nile Virus?
West Nile virus (WNV) is a mosquito-carried virus that can cause illnesses ranging from a mild fever to more serious diseases like encephalitis or meningitis. It was first identified in the United States in 1999.
How is WNV spread?
WNV is most commonly spread to people through the bite of an infected mosquito. More information about different types of mosquitoes that can spread WNV can be found on the MDPH website at www.mass.gov/dph/mosquito.
WNV may also be spread through blood transfusion or organ transplant. In addition, there are rare reports of WNV being passed from pregnant or breastfeeding women, who are infected with WNV, to their babies. Since these reports are rare, the health effects on an unborn or breastfeeding baby are unclear and still being studied.
People do not become infected by having direct contact with other infected people, birds, or animals.
What are the symptoms of WNV?
The majority of people who are infected with WNV (approximately 80%) will have no symptoms.
A smaller number of people who become infected (~ 20%) will have symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands. They may also develop a skin rash on the chest, stomach, and back.
Less than 1% of people infected with WNV will develop severe illnesses, including encephalitis or meningitis. The symptoms of severe illness can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness, and paralysis. Persons older than 50 years of age have a higher risk of developing severe illness.
How common is WNV in Massachusetts?
Because most people who are exposed to WNV have no symptoms, it is difficult to know exactly how many people have been infected. People who develop severe illness with WNV are most often reported. Between 2011 and 2020, 148 people were reported with WNV infection in Massachusetts. Seven of these people died. Cases have been identified from around the state.
What can you do to protect yourself from WNV?
Since WNV is most commonly spread by mosquitoes, here are some things you can do to reduce your chances of being bitten:
- Schedule outdoor events to avoid the hours between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
- When you are outdoors, wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and socks. This may be difficult to do when the weather is hot, but it will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.
- Use a repellent with DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), IR3535(3-[N-butyl-N-acetyl]-aminopropionic acid) or oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-menthane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] according to the instructions given 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. Permethrin products are intended for use on items such as clothing, shoes, bed nets and camping gear and should not be applied to skin.
- Keep mosquitoes out of your house by repairing any holes in your screens and making sure they are tightly attached to all your doors and windows.
- Remove areas of standing water around your home. Here are some suggestions:
- Look around outside your house for containers and other things that might collect water and turn them over, regularly empty them, or dispose of them.
- Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers that are left outdoors so that water can drain out.
- Clean clogged roof gutters; remove leaves and debris that may prevent drainage of rainwater.
- Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
- Change the water in birdbaths every few days; aerate ornamental ponds or stock them with fish.
- Keep swimming pools clean and properly chlorinated; remove standing water from pool covers.
- Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property.