Mosquitoes in western Massachusetts test positive for West Nile Virus

Health

Mosquitoes in multiple western Massachusetts communities have tested positive for West Nile Virus.

Chicopee, Holyoke, West Springfield, and Pittsfield have all had the virus confirmed in samples of mosquitoes collected so far this season.

Chicopee is the latest western Massachusetts community to detect a Mosquito carrying the West Nile virus. Holyoke and West Springfield had earlier found virus borne mosquitos.

Chicopee Health Director Lisa Sanders has put residents on alert to check their property for the presence of still water where mosquitos can breed.

“Still water is water that is not moving,” said Sanders. “Like a pool that’s not being chlorinated water that’ found in flower pots and tires.”

We’ve apparently come a long way understanding the danger of collecting still water. Eighty-three-year-old lifelong Chicopee resident Edward Sagan remembers when his mother collected rainwater.

“Sometimes we didn’t have rain for a while, can’t do that anymore…no, no, not at that time,” said Edward Sagan of Chicopee.

There have been no people or animals infected with the virus, according to Massachusetts Health and Human Services.

Sanders warns that being bitten by an infected mosquito can be very serious for an individual over sixty-five. She suggests restricting your time outdoors during the early morning or evening.

Symptoms

The majority of people who are infected will not have symptoms, but about 20 percent of people infected will have a fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, swollen lymph glands, and a skin rash on chest stomach and back. 

Only 1 percent of people infected will develop serious illness. 

The virus is most commonly transmitted to humans when an infected mosquito bites someone.

Prevention

People can reduce the risk of getting a mosquito-borne illness by doing the following: 

  • When outdoors, wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and socks.
  • Use a repellent with DEET according to the instructions on the product label.
  • Keep mosquitoes out of your house by repairing holes in screens and making sure screens fit tightly into doors and windows.
  • Schedule outdoor events to avoid the hours between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Remove areas of standing water around your home to eliminate sources of mosquito breeding.

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