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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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Monday, August 6, 2007

Mosquitoes with West Nile found for first time in Boston

By Stephen Smith, Globe Staff

For the first time this summer, mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus have been detected in Boston. Statewide, insects carrying West Nile have been identified in six cities and towns.

In Boston, the infected mosquitoes were found in West Roxbury. No human cases of the potentially lethal disease have been reported in Boston or elsewhere in the state. Last year, three people contracted the illness; all survived.

The other cities and towns where West Nile has been found in mosquitoes include Berkely, Brookline, Marlborough, Medford, and Salem. August is usually when West Nile begins widely circulating in mosquitoes.

So far this year, most of the 185 human cases of the disease in the United States have been reported west of the Mississippi River. California has the most, with 42. 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 05:39 PM
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