Christine Bongiorno, Director
27 Maple Street
Arlington, MA 02476
For Immediate Release
Friday, Sept. 13, 2019
Media Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Arlington Health and Human Services Encourages Residents to Take Precautions to Prevent EEE and West Nile Virus
Town’s Risk Levels are Low for EEE and Moderate for West Nile Virus
ARLINGTON — Public Health Director Natasha Waden reports that, even though Arlington is at low risk for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) Virus and moderate risk for West Nile Virus (WNV), residents are urged to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites during peak mosquito hours.
West Nile Virus and EEE are most commonly transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. EEE is a rare but serious illness that can affect people of all ages.
EEE can cause severe illness and possibly lead to death in any age group; however, people under age 15 are at particular risk. West Nile Virus is a mosquito-carried virus that can cause illness ranging from a mild fever to more serious disease like encephalitis or meningitis. While WNV can infect people of all ages, people over the age of 50 are at higher risk for severe illness.
So far this year, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) has confirmed seven human cases of EEE and one death.; and only one human case of West Nile. Historically, EEE has been associated with mosquitoes found in and around fresh water, hardwood swamps located in the southeastern part of the State; whereas West Nile Virus has been more widespread throughout the Commonwealth, including Arlington.
With the first case of West Nile Virus in Middlesex County confirmed yesterday, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has raised Arlington’s risk level for the virus from low to moderate.
Arlington works to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes by treating all storm water catch basins in town and wetland areas, and by working with property owners to remove large sources of standing water, such as abandoned swimming pools.
Additionally, the Arlington Board of Health recommends the following safety tips:
Avoid Mosquito Bites
- Be aware of peak mosquito hours: The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. Consider limiting outdoor activities that occur during the evening or early morning. If you are outdoors at any time and notice mosquitoes around you, take steps to avoid being bitten by moving indoors, covering up and/or wearing repellent.
- Clothing can help reduce mosquito bites: Although it may be difficult to do when it’s hot, wearing long sleeves, long pants and socks while outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.
- Apply insect repellent when you go outdoors. Use a repellent with DEET, permethrin, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus 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 directly to your skin.
Mosquito-Proof Your Home
- Drain standing water: Many 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.
- Install or repair window and door screens: Some mosquitoes like to come indoors. Keep them outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all of your windows and doors.
Information about EEE and reports of current and historical EEE virus activity in Massachusetts can be found on the MDPH website here.
“Though our risk levels for EEE and West Nile Virus are not significant, we want to remind residents to be aware that mosquito borne illness remains a public health threat until the first deep frost,” Waden said. “Everyone should take reasonable steps to protect themselves from these illnesses by adhering to the tips we’ve provided.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the EEE virus is a rare cause of brain infections or encephalitis. Very few human cases are reported across the U.S. each year, but EEE can be fatal or leave victims with serious complications and neurological problems.