August 8 2018

Tips to Prevent Mosquito Bites After WNV Reported in Middlesex County


West Nile Virus has been detected in numerous Middlesex County communities and the state has guidelines for how residents can help prevent it from spreading.


West Nile virus (WNV) is a mosquito-carried virus that can cause illness ranging from a mild fever to more serious disease like encephalitis or meningitis.


WNV is most commonly spread to people through the bite of an infected mosquito, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) says. It can also be spread through blood transfusion or organ transplant. In addition, there are rare reports of WNV being passed from pregnant or breastfeeding women, who are infected with WNV, to their babies. Since these reports are rare, the health effects on an unborn or breastfeeding baby are unclear and still being studied. People do not become infected by having direct contact with other infected people, birds or animals.


For the majority of people infected with WNV there are no symptoms. Some people (roughly 20 percent) will have symptoms that include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting and swollen lymph glands. They may also develop a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. Less than one percent of people infected develop a severe illness such as encephalitis or meningitis. The symptoms of severe illness can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle

weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. Persons older than 50 years of age have a higher risk of developing severe illness.


So far this year it has been found in mosquitos in communities near Burlington but as of this week has not been detected in town. However, it has been identified in neighboring and nearby communities including Acton, Arlington, Lexington, Malden and Newton.


Since WNV is most commonly spread by mosquitoes the MDPH has tips you can employ to reduce your chances of being bitten:


- Schedule outdoor events to avoid the hours between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.

- When you are outdoors, wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and socks. This may be difficult to do when the weather is hot, but it will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.

- Use a repellent with DEET, permethrin, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus[p-menthane 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% 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.

- Keep mosquitoes out of your house by repairing any holes in your screens and making sure they are tightly attached to all your doors and windows.

- Remove areas of standing water around your home. Here are some suggestions:


- Look around outside your house for containers and other things that might collect water and turn them over, regularly empty them, or dispose of them


- Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers that are left outdoors so that water can drain out


- Clean clogged roof gutters; remove leaves and debris that may prevent drainage of rainwater


- Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use


- Change the water in birdbaths every few days; aerate ornamental ponds or stock them with fish


- Keep swimming pools clean and properly chlorinated; remove standing water from pool covers


- Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property



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