Mass. DPH raises West Nile risk to moderate for every community in the state

Mass. DPH raises West Nile risk to moderate for every community in the state

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has raised the West Nile virus risk level to moderate.

DPH released a new report on West Nile in the state and has raised the risk level from low to moderate in every city and town across the Commonwealth.

Of the 351 cities and towns in Mass., 162 communities are already considered to be at moderate risk for the virus.

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DPH State Epidemiologist, Dr. Catherine Brown says that they've noticed its very geographically widespread. "It'd been pretty intense with a lot of intensification over the last several weeks," she says.

According to Brown, that means there's an increased risk for a person to get bit by an infected mosquito.

"This year, pretty much everywhere we look we look for the virus, we're finding it in mosquitoes," says Brown.

Officials say this is only the second time they have had to raise the risk level statewide.

To date, there have been no reported human cases of West Nile in the state. But they say waiting for a human case to sound the alarm is too late to prevent human infection.

DPH is urging residents to take precautions by using insect repellents, wearing long-sleeved clothing and limiting outdoor activities during the hours around dawn and dusk during peak mosquito season.

Brown says about eight percent of people bitten by an infected mosquito won't even notice any symptoms. And about 20 percent might notice fever and chills.The virus can cause illness ranging from a mild fever to more serious disease, like encephalitis or meningitis.

"August and September are the months when most human cases occur," says Brown. "That’s why we are taking this step today so together we can help keep people from getting sick."

The cities and towns pinpointed on the interactive map below are where mosquitos have tested positive for West Nile virus.