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West Nile Threat Level Raised to High in Boston

A Cambridge man in his 70s is hospitalized with the disease. He represents the second human case of West Nile Virus confirmed in the state this year.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health on Thursday raised the threat level for West Nile Virus in Boston to high.

West Nile has been found in several Boston neighborhoods at least five separate times this summer, although there have been no confirmed cases in the South End.

The move comes after a Cambridge man in his 70s was confirmed to have West Nile Virus, according to an announcement from the public health department.

He represents the second confirmed human case of West Nile Virus in the state this year. The first case, confirmed on Aug. 15, was also discovered in a Cambridge resident, according to the announcement. 

The most recent West Nile Virus patient is currently hospitalized, the announcement says.

The Department of Public Health has also raised the threat level to high in Somerville, Cambridge, Arlington, Belmont, Brookline and Watertown.

A "high" threat level means multiple cases are very likely, according to Boston.com.

"Today's announcement is a compelling indicator that the threat of mosquito-borne illness is widespread, and people should continue taking simple, common-sense steps to protect themselves and their families against mosquito bites," said John Auerbach, commissioner of the Department of Public Health.

Below are guidelines from the Department of Public Health for protecting yourself:

Avoid Mosquito Bites

  • 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% or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age.
  • 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.

Mosquito-Proof Your Home

  • 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.

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. 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 from 2012, can be found on the Arbovirus Surveillance Information web page at www.mass.gov/dph/wnv or by calling the DPH Epidemiology Program at 617-983-6800.

Roy Webb August 25, 2012 at 09:14 PM
One concern I have is that the law requires landlords to install screens in windows for the first four floors. Does anyone really believe a mosquito can't get in a 5th floor window?
Sara Jacobi August 27, 2012 at 02:20 PM
What? Landlords don't have to install screens in 5th floor windows? What about pets or children just falling out??

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