The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced Friday that mosquitoes collected in Holyoke on Wednesday have tested positive for West Nile virus.
Health officials have also detected West Nile virus in mosquito specimens collected in Chicopee, the city’s mayor says.
In a news release sent to 22News from Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos’ Office, 5,496 samples of mosquitoes were tested in Massachusetts for the virus in 2017.
Chicopee had one positive mosquito sample identified in 2017.
According to Holyoke Board of Health Director Brian Fitzgerald, West Nile virus is most commonly transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. He said people over the age of 50 are at a higher risk for severe infection.
Fitzgerald said residents can take the following precautions to avoid mosquito bites:
- applying bug spray
- being aware of peak mosquito hours (dusk to dawn)
- wearing clothing that can help reduce bites (long sleeves, long pants, and socks)
To keep mosquitos away from your home, Fitzgerald suggests:
- draining standing water
- installing or repairing window/door screens
Other ways to protect yourself from West Nile virus
Avoid Mosquito Bites
Be Aware of Peak Mosquito Hours: The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning
Clothing Can Help: reduce mosquito bites. By wearing long sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin
Apply Insect Repellent: when you go outdoors
Mosquito-Proof Your Home
Drain Standing Water: Many mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to be either by draining or getting rid of items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty any unused flowerpots and wading pools and change water in birdbaths frequently and
Install or Repair Screens: Some mosquitoes like to come indoors. Keep them outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all your windows and doors