Local Risk Level Raised from Moderate to High
ARLINGTON — Public Health Director Natasha Waden announces that the Town of Arlington is now considered at high risk for West Nile Virus (WNV), and offers community members important 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 due to increasing WNV activity. There have been four human cases of WNV in the state and one case in an animal this year, all in Middlesex County. WNV 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 WNV 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, WNV symptoms tend to include fever and flu-like illness. In rare cases, more severe illness can occur.
Arlington HHS encourages residents to take the following precautions to help protect themselves and their loved ones:
Avoid mosquito bites:
- Use insect repellent with DEET any time you are outdoors. Be sure to follow the application directions on the label.
- Be aware of peak mosquito hours, which are generally from dusk to dawn. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning.
- Wear protective clothing when outdoors during peak mosquito hours such as long sleeves, long pants, high socks, hats with netting to cover the face, and any other clothing that will cover exposed skin.
Mosquito-proof your home:
- Make sure screens are repaired and are tightly attached to doors and windows.
- Remove standing water from places such as buckets, wading pools, puddles, ditches, bird baths and gutters, which are breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
Information about WNV and reports of current and historical WNV activity in Massachusetts can be found on the DPH website.