BOSTON (WWLP) – For the first time this year, a mosquito sample in Massachusetts has tested positive for West Nile Virus.
The Department of Public Health said Thursday that a mosquito sample collected in Boston on July 3rd has tested positive for the disease.
The state hasn’t seen any human or animal cases yet, but the DPH said human risk for infection increases throughout the summer season, peaking in August.
The DPH said the best way to defend yourself is not to get bit.
Sylvia Sullivan of Springfield told 22News, “Every summer when I come outdoors and there are bugs all over the place, the first thing I do is reach for the summer perfume, which is the bug spray.”
Last year, Massachusetts saw a record 49 human cases of West Nile Virus. People over 50 are at a higher risk for the disease.
While most people who contract West Nile Virus show no symptoms, when symptoms are present, they usually consist of fever and other flu-like symptoms.
The DPH urges people to use bug spray with ingredients like DEET or Lemon Eucalyptus.
Jose Papa of Springfield told 22News, “I should, yeah. Be aware, be careful, you know. I think we really need it. Whether they attack or not, maybe it will just keep them away.”
You can also take steps to protect yourself at home by getting rid of any standing water and repairing any holes in window screens.
The DPH said you should take note of peak mosquito hours. You are more likely to be bit from dusk to dawn.
The DPH offers the following tips to avoid mosquitoes and the risk for WNV:
Avoid Mosquito Bites
Apply Insect Repellent when Outdoors. Use a repellent with an EPA-registered ingredient (DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-methane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] or IR3535) according to the instructions 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 percent or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age.
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 in areas of high risk.
Clothing Can Help Reduce Mosquito Bites. Wearing long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.
Mosquito-Proof Your Home
Drain Standing Water. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by either draining or discarding items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty any unused flowerpots and wading pools, and change the water in birdbaths frequently.
Install or Repair Screens. Keep mosquitoes outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all of your windows and doors.
Protect Your Animals
Animal owners should reduce potential mosquito breeding sites on their property by eliminating standing water from containers such as buckets, tires, and wading pools – especially after heavy rains. Water troughs provide excellent mosquito breeding habitats and should be flushed out at least once a week during the summer months to reduce mosquitoes near paddock areas. Horse owners should keep horses in indoor stalls at night to reduce their risk of exposure to mosquitoes. Owners should also speak with their veterinarian about mosquito repellents approved for use in animals and vaccinations to prevent WNV and EEE. If an animal is suspected of having WNV or EEE, owners are required to report to the Department of Agricultural Resources, Division of Animal Health by calling 617-626-1795, and to the Department of Public Health by calling 617-983-6800.