The Cambridge Public Health Department leads the city's response to the risks posed by West Nile Virus, eastern equine encephalitis, and other mosquito-borne diseases.
Cambridge response to human West Nile virus cases
While Cambridge residents of all ages are at risk for severe illness from West Nile virus, people over 50 are at greatest risk.
The easiest and best way to prevent West Nile virus is to avoid mosquito bites through October. The Cambridge Public Health Department is encouraging residents—especially people over 50—to consider rescheduling outdoor evening activities through October or take simple actions to prevent mosquito bites when outdoors during evening and night hours.
The health department also urges residents to remove or treat stagnant water near their homes.
The Cambridge Public Health Department is not recommending spraying at this time. To learn more about mosquito control activities undertaken by the city in 2012 to address West Nile virus, see local response.
West Nile virus reported in 2012
As of October 9, 2012, a total of 22 confirmed human cases of West Nile virus (including the four Cambridge residents who were diagnosed in August) have been reported statewide this year, including one fatality.
West Nile virus has also been detected in mosquitoes in Cambridge (five positive pools) and neighboring municipalities, including Arlington, Belmont, Boston, Brookline, Newton, and Watertown. For more data and other information, visit the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's arbovirus website.
What is the current risk as of October 2012?
State health officials have designated the threat level of West Nile virus in Cambridge as "critical" and the threat level as “high” in the communities of Arlington, Belmont, Boston, Brookline, Chelsea, Everett, Lexington, Malden, Medford, Melrose, Newton, Revere, Saugus, Somerville, Watertown, and Winthrop.
To learn more about risk of West Nile virus in Cambridge and other Massachusetts communities see the risk map from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
Mosquito breeding grounds
Mosquito breeding grounds include catch basins and wetlands because mosquitoes lay their eggs in still or stagnant water. Residents should be aware that mosquito breeding grounds can be found anywhere there is stagnant water, such as their backyards. Tenants, property managers, and homeowners can greatly reduce the city's mosquito population by removing mosquito breeding grounds on their property.
What you can do
Remove stagnant water from your property
Empty or treat any items that hold water, such as flower pots, birdbaths, swimming pool covers, buckets, cans, and barrels.
Clean rain gutters, leaves in downspouts, and pooled water on flat roofs.
Remove unused tires and other items that could collect water.
Remove containers that may hold water in places that are hard to see, such as under bushes, porches, decks, or stairs.
When you can't get rid of stagnant water by sweeping or other methods (such as Mosquito Dunk, a product sold in hardware stores), please report the address or location of the puddle or still water source to the appropriate city department:
Private property: Cambridge Public Health Department, 617-665-3848
Public property (roads, parks): Cambridge Dept. of Public Works, 617-349-4800
Construction sites: Cambridge Inspectional Services, 617-349-6100
If you have questions or local concerns about West Nile virus or stagnant water, please contact the Cambridge Public Health Department’s Environmental Health Division at 617-665-3801 or contact Environmental Health staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For general information, visit the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's arbovirus website and the CDC's What You Need To Know.
Last updated on October 15, 2012