State health officials: 7th human case of West Nile Virus in Massachusetts

Residents urged to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites

BOSTON — A woman in her 30s in Bristol County is the state’s seventh case of West Nile Virus this year, state health officials said on Thursday.

The latest case of the virus spread by mosquitoes tops the six human cases and one animal case of WNV seen in Massachusetts to date this year.

In Massachusetts, 27 communities in Essex, Middlesex, Brookline and Suffolk counties are at high risk and 49 communities are at moderate risk.

Based on mosquito findings and the new human case, the following 11 additional communities are being raised to moderate risk: Fall River and Seekonk in Bristol County; North Andover in Essex County; Bridgewater, East Bridgewater, Halifax, and Plympton in Plymouth County; and Blackstone, Hopedale, Milford, and Millville in Worcester County.

As overnight temperatures get cooler, mosquito activity right around dusk and dawn may be more intense.

“This is our first West Nile virus case this year in someone under the age of 50,” Acting Public Health Commissioner Margret Cooke said in a statement on Thursday. “This is a reminder that although people over the age of 50 are at greater risk from West Nile virus, all ages can be affected. Risk from West Nile virus will continue until the first hard frost and people should remember to take steps to prevent mosquito bites anytime they are outdoors.”

In 2020, there were five human cases of WNV infection identified in Massachusetts.

WNV is usually transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. While WNV can infect people of all ages, people over the age of 50 are at higher risk for severe disease. Most people infected with WNV will have no symptoms. When present, WNV symptoms tend to include fever and flu-like illness. In rare cases, more severe illness can occur.

To avoid mosquito bites, use insect repellent, be aware of peak mosquito-biting hours of dusk to dawn, wear long sleeves and long pants and socks when outdoors and consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning.

It’s also advised to drain standing water from around your home.

For more information, including all WNV and EEE positive results, visit the Arbovirus Surveillance Information webpage or call the DPH Epidemiology Program at 617-983-6800.

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