Four more people in Massachusetts have tested positive for West Nile virus, which brings the state’s total to nine.
Officials said Tuesday that the new cases involve a man in his 40s from Middlesex County who is hospitalized, a man in his 60s from Bristol County who is hospitalized, a woman in her 20s from Essex County who was released from a hospital and a woman in her 80s from Suffolk County who was released from a hospital.
“The risk for additional people to get infected with WNV is ongoing,” Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel said in a release. “It is extremely important for people to take steps to avoid mosquito bites including using repellents, wearing clothing to reduce exposed skin, dumping standing water, and moving indoors when mosquitoes are present.”
No human deaths have been reported this year, however, there were six human cases in the state last year.
Personal protection is the first line of defense against mosquitoes that may carry WNV, EEE, or other diseases – and the most effective way to avoid infection. With WNV and EEE established throughout the state, DEM and RIDOH remind the public to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds and prevent being bitten, whenever possible. The following precautions are advised:
• Use EPA-approved bug spray with one of the following active ingredients: DEET (20-30% strength is recommended), picaridin, IR3535, and oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol.
• Minimize outdoor activity at dawn and at dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
• Put insect netting over strollers and playpens.
• Wear long sleeves and long pants whenever possible, particularly if you are outdoors during dawn and dusk.
• Remove anything around your house and yard that collects water; just one cup of water can produce hundreds of mosquitoes.
• Clean gutters and downspouts to ensure proper drainage, and repair holes in window screens.
• Remove any water from unused swimming pools, wading pools, boats, planters, trash and recycling bins, tires, and anything else that collects water, and cover them.
• Change the water in birdbaths at least two times a week, and rinse out birdbaths once a week.
Horses are particularly susceptible to WNV and EEE. Horse owners are advised to vaccinate their animals early in the season and practice the following:
• Remove or cover areas where standing water can collect.
• Avoid putting animals outside at dawn, dusk, or during the night when mosquitoes are most active.
• Insect-proof facilities where possible and use approved repellants frequently.
• Monitor animals for symptoms of fever and/or neurological signs (such as stumbling, moodiness, loss of appetite) and report all suspicious cases to a veterinarian immediately. If you are unsure if your horse is properly vaccinated you should consult with your veterinarian.