4 communities labeled as high risk for West Nile virus

4 communities labeled as high risk for West Nile virus

(AP) — Four communities in Middlesex County are now considered high risk for the West Nile virus, health officials said.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced four more human cases of the West Nile virus, bringing the total number in the state this year to seven. All four people were exposed in Middlesex County, officials said.

The health department said Cambridge, Newton, Somerville and Watertown have been elevated to high risk for the mosquito-borne disease.

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Concord, Lexington, Lincoln, Sudbury, Waltham, Wayland, Weston, and Winchester, which are also in Middlesex County, are now considered moderate risk. Dighton, Fall River, and Swansea in Bristol County are also moderate risk.

There were five human cases of West Nile virus infection in Massachusetts last year.

The health department says most people with West Nile Virus have no symptoms, which can include fever and flu-like illness. People over the age of 50 are at a greater risk for serious illness.

Health officials are encouraging residents to take precautions, such as wearing mosquito repellent and wearing long sleeves and long pants when outdoors and draining standing water around homes, where mosquitoes breed.