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More West Nile Virus cases reported in Western Massachusetts

BOSTON The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) announced that several additional samples of West Nile Virus (WNV) were identified this past week. WNV activity has now been confirmed in many Massachusetts counties. Additional WNV-infected mosquitoes were reported from the communities of Boston, Needham and Reading. West Nile Virus was also found in birds from areas throughout the state including Fall River, Reading, Saugus, Natick, Worcester and Chicopee. "We are finding WNV throughout Massachusetts. There is significant activity in the greater Boston area; as well as communities in the Worcester and Springfield areas," said DPH State Epidemiologist Dr. Al DeMaria. "People should consider the virus as being established in Massachusetts for the summer. The warm, wet summer is continuing to support mosquito populations and allowing the virus to spread." In 2007, there were six human cases of WNV in Massachusetts. While WNV can infect people of all ages, people over the age of 50 are at higher risk for severe disease. WNV is usually spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. People have an important role to play in protecting themselves and their loved ones from illnesses caused by mosquitoes. Be Aware of Peak Mosquito Hours. The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning. Clothing Can Help Reduce Mosquito Bites. Wearing long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin. Apply Insect Repellent When Outdoors. Use a repellent with DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-methane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] or IR3535 according to the instructions 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 percent or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age. Drain Standing Water. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by either draining or discarding items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty any unused flowerpots and wading pools, and change water in birdbaths frequently. Install or Repair Screens. Keep mosquitoes outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all of your windows and doors. Report Dead Birds. Dead crows or blue jays may be a sign that WNV is circulating among the birds and mosquitoes in your area. Call 1-866-MASS WNV to report a dead bird. By reporting dead birds, you can play an important role in monitoring WNV. More information is available on the DPH Web site at www.mass.gov/dph/wnv. Information about WNV and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) is also available by calling the DPH recorded information line at 1-866-MASS-WNV (1-866-627-7968), or the Epidemiology Program at (617) 983-6800.

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