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UPDATED, Sept. 11: Arlington is considered at high risk for West Nile Virus (WNV), Public Health Director Natasha Waden announced Saturday, Sept. 11, offerng the community safety tips to prevent mosquito bites and avoid mosquito-borne diseases.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) has increased risk levels from moderate to high in communities in Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk and Suffolk Counties because of increasing WNV activity. There have been four human cases of the virus in the state and one case in an animal this year, all in Middlesex County. The virus was detected in mosquitoes collected from Arlington in early August.
Mosquitoes are most prevalent from May to August, but remain active until the first time temperatures fall below freezing. WNV is most commonly transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. The mosquitoes that carry this virus are common throughout the state and are found in urban as well as more rural areas.
While the virus can infect people of all ages, people over the age of 50 are at higher risk for severe infection. Most people infected with WNV will have no symptoms. When present, symptoms tend to include fever and flulike illness. In rare cases, more severe illness can occur.
Arlington Health and Human Services encourages residents to take the following precautions to help protect themselves and their loved ones:
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.
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 percent or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under 3 years old.
- 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.
This news announcement was published Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021. Providing the information was Leah Comins, who works for John Guilfoile Public Relations. It was updated Sept. 11.
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