Health

Man in his 20s becomes third West Nile virus case in the state this year

The man, who was not identified, was likely exposed to the virus in Suffolk County where the risk of human infection is currently moderate to high.

In this Aug. 26, 2019, file photo, Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District biologist Nadja Reissen examines a mosquito in Salt Lake City.
Rick Bowmer / AP, File

A man in his 20s became the third person in Massachusetts to be infected with West Nile virus this year, the state Department of Public Health said in a release Tuesday.

The man, who was not identified, was likely exposed to the virus in Suffolk County where the risk of human infection is currently moderate to high, the department noted.

Last year, there were 11 human cases of West Nile Virus in the state.

West Nile virus, which humans can get from the bite of an infected mosquito, can be transmitted to people of all ages, but people over the age of 50 are at higher risk for severe disease, state officials said.

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Most people will not present with symptoms, but when they do show, symptoms can include fever or flu-like illness, the department said.

The state noted that there have not been any detected human or animal cases of Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) in the state so far this year.

Officials urged the public to take the following precautions:

Avoid mosquito bites

  • Use insect repellent when outdoors. Make sure the repellent contains DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), oil of lemon eucalyptus (p-menthane 3, 8-diol (PMD)), or IR3535, according to the instructions on the product label. Infants under two months of age should not be around products containing DEET; older children should only use concentrations of 30% or less to be safe; and children under 3 should not be exposed to oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  • Consider rescheduling any outdoor activities that occur during the evening or early morning, which are peak biting times for many mosquitoes.
  • Wear long-sleeve shirts or jackets, long pants, and socks to help keep mosquitoes away from skin.

Make a mosquito-proof home

  • Drain any standing water and discard any items that hold water to prevent mosquitoes from laying their eggs there. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty unused flowerpots and change the water in birdbaths frequently.
  • Install or repair screens to ensure they are tightly fitted and keep mosquitoes from getting into the home through any windows or doors.

Protect animals

  • Talk to a veterinarian about mosquito repellents that are safe for animals, as well as vaccinations that prevent West Nile virus and EEE.
  • Report any animal cases of West Nile virus or EEE to both the DAR, Division of Animal Health, at 617-626-1795 and the Department of Public Health at 617-983-6800. Owners are required to report these cases.
  • Reduce potential mosquito breeding sites by eliminating standing water from buckets, water troughs, wading pools, etc.

More information, including reports of all West Nile virus and EEE positive results, can be found by checking out the Arbovirus Surveillance Information web page or by calling the DPH Epidemiology Program at 617-983-6800.

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