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West Nile Virus



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.


WEST NILE VIRUS UPDATE:  September 24, 2014

Human Infections

State health officials have announced three human cases of West Nile virus among Massachusetts residents in 2014:
  • A Middlesex County woman in her 20s, announced on Sept. 23.
  • A Middlesex County woman in her 40s, announced on Sept. 10.
  • A Middlesex County man in his 60s, announced on Aug. 22.
See media releases from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. 


Other Updates

  • On Aug. 28, state health officials reported that mosquitoes in Cambridge had tested positive for West Nile virus. This is the city’s only positive mosquito sample to date this year.
  • WNV-infected mosquitoes have also been detected in Arlington, Belmont, Boston, Burlington, Chelsea, Everett, Medford, Newton, and other Massachusetts communities.

What is the current risk?

As of Sept. 24, 2014, there was a moderate risk of West Nile virus in Cambridge and surrounding communities. 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 populations are continuing to decrease but older mosquitoes are also more likely to carry virus. When overnight temperatures are cooler, mosquito activity is concentrated during the pre-dusk and early evening hours. It is particularly critical at this time of year to use mosquito repellent and use clothing to reduce exposed skin.


WHAT YOU CAN DO

Avoid Mosquito Bites

  • Apply Insect Repellent when Outdoors. Use a repellent with DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-methane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] or IR3535 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.
  • 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.
  • Clothing Can Help Reduce Mosquito Bites. Wearing long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.
  • For more information on how to protect yourself, see the Cambridge Public Health Department's Prevention Tips.

Reduce Mosquito Breeding Areas

In New England, the mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus are "container breeding" species.  These mosquitoes lay their eggs in still or stagnant water found in catch basins, roof gutters clogged with leaves, old tires, flower pots, bird baths, swimming pool covers, buckets, cans, barrels, and other places where water can be trapped. Tenants, property managers, and homeowners can greatly reduce the city's mosquito population by removing mosquito breeding areas on their property.

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, 617-665-3838
  • 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 617-665-3838 or contact Environmental Health staff at slipson@challiance.org.

For general information, visit the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's arbovirus website and the CDC's West Nile virus website.

Last updated on September 24, 2014


INFO LINE

For general questions about West Nile virus and eastern equine encephalitis, please call 617-665-3838. 


WNV LISTSERV

Join the Cambridge WNV listserv and receive seasonal updates on West Nile virus and eastern equine encephalitis.


NEWS

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Cambridge Public Health Department
119 Windsor Street, Ground Level, Cambridge, MA 02139
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