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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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Friday, July 27, 2007

First bird with West Nile detected in Massachusetts

By Stephen Smith, Globe Staff

For the first time this summer, a bird carrying West Nile virus has been found in Massachusetts. The infected blue jay was detected in Marlborough and tested positive yesterday.

No human cases of the mosquito-borne disease have been reported this year in the state. Last year, three people contracted the illness in Massachusetts; all survived.

So far this year, most human cases of the disease have been reported west of the Mississippi River, with California reporting 27 cases, the most in the nation.

In the most severe cases, the infection can cause a high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, and paralysis. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one of every 150 people infected with West Nile develops severe symptoms.

To avoid contact with infected mosquitoes, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health recommends limiting outdoor activities from dusk to dawn, peak biting times for mosquitoes. Otherwise, wear as much clothing as comfortable and apply insect repellent such as DEET, permethrin, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.

DEET should not be used on infants under the age of 2 months and should be used in concentrations of 30 percent or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under 3 years old.

Posted by Karen Weintraub at 11:11 AM
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