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Cambridge Resident Diagnosed with West Nile Virus

Residents urged to protect themselves from mosquitoes

September 4, 2014

State health officials reported on Aug. 22 that a Cambridge man in his 60s was hospitalized with West Nile virus. He has since been released from the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery. This is the first reported human case of West Nile virus this year in Massachusetts. It cannot be determined if the infection was acquired locally or out of state.

See the media advisory issued by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

This summer, mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus have been found in Cambridge and neighboring communities, including Arlington, Belmont, Boston, Medford, Newton, Burlington, and Everett.

“We urge residents to be vigilant about avoiding mosquito bites and removing stagnant water near their homes,” said Claude Jacob, the city’s Chief Public Health Officer and director of the Cambridge Public Health Department.

“Our department has been working with city and community partners to inform residents about the increased risk of West Nile virus this summer. We’re also working with the East Middlesex Mosquito Control Project and city departments to reduce mosquito breeding grounds,” Jacob said.

The easiest and best way to avoid West Nile virus is to prevent mosquito bites. Here are some tips to protect you and your family:
  • Apply insect repellant when outdoors. Use insect repellant containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535. Follow the directions on the package.
  • 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.
  • Get rid of mosquito breeding sites in your yard. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in still water. Empty standing water from flower pots, buckets, barrels, and children’s pools. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths weekly. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out.
  • Make sure that window and door screens fit tightly and are in good condition.
The greatest risk of West Nile virus infection is during late summer and fall before the first frost. In Massachusetts, the first frost usually occurs in early or mid-October.

Most people who get infected with West Nile virus have no symptoms and do not become sick. About 20% of infected people, however, experience mild sickness that may include fever, headache, and body aches. More severe illness is rare, especially among healthy adults under age 50. Severe infection may be marked by headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, tremors, muscle weakness, and paralysis.

If you think you have symptoms of West Nile virus, contact your doctor or nurse.

State and county information about West Nile virus and reports of West Nile virus activity in Massachusetts can be found on the state health department website at www.mass.gov/dph/wnv

For local West Nile virus updates, call the Cambridge Public Health Department at 617-665-3838 or visit www.cambridgepublichealth.org/wnv.

Suzy Feinberg, MPH
Public Information Officer

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