The Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported Friday afternoon that a person has contracted the West Nile virus in Middlesex County. This is the state’s first human case this year. The patient is in his 60s, according to the state health department, and has been hospitalized.
“We’re in our peak season for possible West Nile virus human infection,” said DPH State Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Catherine Brown in a prepared statement. “We need to continue to take steps to protect ourselves against mosquito bites by using insect repellant, covering up, and reducing outdoor activities at dusk and after nightfall when mosquitoes are at their most active.”
The patient was confirmed today to be infected with the virus after a positive test at the Hinton State Laboratory Institute in Jamaica Plain. Mass. DPH is conducting an investigation to determine exactly where the patient was exposed to mosquitoes infected with West Nile. In the Greater Boston, health officials have found mosquito pools infected with the virus in South Boston, Arlington, Hyde Park, East Boston, Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, and Roslindale.
This is the first human case of West Nile in 2014. In 2013, there were eight cases in Massachusetts residents, none of which were fatal. Symptoms of West Nile virus in humans include fever and flu-like symptoms. People with compromised immune systems are most at-risk, including children and the elderly.
State health officials are encouraging residents to protect themselves against mosquito bites using repellent with DEET, permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-methane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] or IR3535. Residents should also avoid going outside at peak biting hours at dusk and dawn, and residents should make efforts to remove flower pots and other containers that might collect standing water around the house where infected mosquitoes can breed.