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West Nile Virus Found in Mosquitoes in Worcester

Worcester, MA (July 25, 2017) - West Nile Virus has been detected in mosquitoes collected from the City of Worcester, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health told City officials today. No humans have tested positive for the virus.

MDPH found positive mosquito samples in the northeastern and southeastern quadrants of the City. During the summer months, MDPH collects routine samples of mosquitoes to monitor for West Nile and Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

West Nile is most commonly transmitted to humans by the bite of a mosquito infected with the virus. While West Nile can infect people of all ages, people over the age of 50 are at higher risk for severe infection.

"Today's announcement of the West Nile Virus detection is a reminder of the importance of protecting ourselves from the threat of mosquito-borne illness," said Dr. Michael Hirsh, Medical Director for the Worcester Division of Public Health/Central MA Regional Public Health Alliance. "We should remember the Five Ds of prevention: Avoid being outdoors during DAWN and DUSK, when mosquitoes are most active; DRESS in long-sleeved clothing; use insect repellent with DEET; and DRAIN any standing water from around your home."

Tips for Avoiding Mosquito Bites

  • 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. Otherwise, take extra care to use repellent and protective clothing.
  • Clothing Can Help reduce mosquito bites. Although it may be difficult to do when it’s hot, wearing long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.
  • Apply Insect Repellent when you go outdoors. Use a repellent with DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-methane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] 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. Permethrin products are intended for use on items such as clothing, shoes, bed nets and camping gear and should not be applied to 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 getting rid of items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty any unused flowerpots and wading pools, and change water in birdbaths frequently. All property should be maintained to prohibit the formation of stagnant pools of water, which may affect adversely the public health by attracting and harboring mosquitoes and other insects. Properties with these conditions can be reported to the Department of Inspectional Services via the City's customer service center at 508-929-1300.
  • Install or Repair Screens - Some mosquitoes like to come indoors. Keep them outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all of your windows and doors.

Information about West Nile and reports of activity in Massachusetts can be found at www.worcesterma.gov/summerpests, and on the MDPH website at www.mass.gov/dph/wnv.

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