The Mass. Dept. of Public Health recently reported that mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus (WNV) have been found in Everett and in other communities in the Metro Boston area. This news should serve as a warning that mosquitoes pose a health threat between now and early October. Although the chances of acquiring WNV are remote, residents should be aware that this mosquito-borne virus could cause fever, meningitis or encephalitis. Early symptoms of WNV include fever, headache, stiff neck and muscle weakness. WNV can infect people of all ages but people over the age of 50 are at a higher risk to experience severe symptoms.
Mosquitoes acquire WNV after biting an infected bird. Those mosquitoes can then transmit that virus to a person or to another bird. Culex mosquitoes that develop in water holding containers are the primary vectors of WNV.
During risk periods of WNV, residents should take preventative actions to avoid mosquito bites.
Be aware that mosquitoes are active in damp shady areas, during cloudy humid days, at dusk, dawn and during the night.
To protect yourself from mosquitoes use mosquito repellent and wear protective clothing. Use repellents containing DEET, Picaridin or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus and follow the directions on the label. Never use DEET on infants. Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus should not be used on children under three. Although uncomfortable during hot days, long-sleeve shirts and long pants can provide a layer of protection.
Baby carriages and playpens should be covered with mosquito netting.
Fix any holes in screens and screen doors and replace worn weather stripping.
For further information on WNV, log onto the Massachusetts Department of Public Health web site at westnile.ashtonweb.com/ or the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov/westnile/index.html If residents have any questions about mosquitoes or how to control them, contact the East Middlesex Mosquito Control Project at 781-899-5730 or visit our website at sudbury.ma.us/emmcp/