Published on July 27, 2023
CONTACT: Jeanne Galloway, REHS, MPA, CHO
Director of Public Health
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) has announced the second case of West Nile virus (WNV) in mosquitoes collected in West Springfield this year. This is the seventh WNV positive mosquitoes in the state this year. The mosquitoes were collected from West Springfield as part of the yearly surveillance program received through membership in the Pioneer Valley Mosquito Control District.
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.
People have an important role to play in protecting themselves and their loved ones from illnesses caused by mosquitoes.
Avoid Mosquito Bites
Schedule outdoor events to avoid the hours between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
When you are outdoors, wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and socks. This may be difficult to do when the weather is hot, but it will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.
Use a repellent with DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), IR3535 (3-[N-butyl-N-acetyl]-aminopropionic acid) or oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-menthane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] according to the instructions given 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% or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age. Permethrin products are intended for use on items such as clothing, shoes, bed nets and camping gear and should not be applied to skin.
More information on choosing and using repellents safely is included in the MDPH Mosquito Repellents fact sheet which can be viewed online at www.mass.gov/dph/mosquito. If you can’t go online, contact MDPH at (617) 983-6800 for a hard copy.
Mosquito-Proof Your Home
Keep mosquitoes out of your house by repairing any holes in your screens and making sure they are tightly attached to all your doors and windows.
Remove areas of standing water around your home. Here are some suggestions:
Look around outside your house for containers and other things that might collect water and turn them over, regularly empty them, or dispose of them.
Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers that are left outdoors so that water can drain out.
Clean clogged roof gutters; remove leaves and debris that may prevent drainage of rainwater.
Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
Change the water in birdbaths every few days; aerate ornamental ponds or stock them with fish.
Keep swimming pools clean and properly chlorinated; remove standing water from pool covers.
Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property.
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 diagnosed with WNV or EEE, owners are required to report to DAR, Division of Animal Health by calling 617-626-1795 and to the Department of Public Health (DPH) by calling 617-983-6800.
More information, including all WNV and EEE positive results, can be found on the Arbovirus Surveillance Information web page at www.mass.gov/dph/mosquito.