Suffolk County

First human case of West Nile Virus reported in Massachusetts

BOSTON — Health officials announced the first human case of West Nile Virus (WNV) in the state Thursday afternoon.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health says the individual is a woman in her 70′s and she was exposed to the virus in Suffolk County.

“August and September are the months when most cases of West Nile virus occur,” said Public Health Commissioner Margret Cooke. “Although the significant drought conditions that exist across the Commonwealth have kept the populations of the Culex mosquito species that are most likely to spread WNV relatively small, today’s news is an important reminder that we all need to take steps to protect ourselves and our families from mosquito bites.”

West Nile Virus is usually transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. In 2021, there were 11 human cases of WNV in Massachusetts.

Symptoms of the virus tend to include fever and flu-like illnesses. The virus has a more significant affect on people over the age of 50, according to health officials.

DPH released the following ways to mitigate the risk of contracting WNV:

  • Be aware of peak mosquito hours. The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many of the bugs.
  • Apply insect repellant when outdoors.
  • Drain standing water. Mosquitos lay their eggs in standing water. Be sure to check rain gutters and drains.

For more information about WNV and EEE, click here.

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