Photo: The West Nile virus is back once again. (Image by mika mamy from Pixabay)
Belmont residents are under a high risk level of contacting West Nile virus as a human case of the disease was reported in Middlesex County, according to a press release dated Oct. 11 from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
WNV is most commonly transmitted to humans by the bite of infected mosquitoes that are common throughout the state and are found in urban as well as more rural areas. While WNV can infect people of all ages, people over 50 are at higher risk for severe infection.
The Belmont Health Department continues to work with the MDPH and the Eastern Middlesex Mosquito Control Project (EMMCP) to monitor local mosquito populations for mosquito-borne diseases such as WNV and EEE. EMMCP oversees the mosquito control program in Belmont and in many surrounding communities to provide services such as the annual application of biological larvicide in the catch basins in our town and also the aerial treatment of wetland areas in neighboring towns.
Although mosquito populations and risk for mosquito-borne disease remain low, it is still important to be vigilant when engaging in outdoor activities, particularly between dusk and dawn, and avoid mosquito bites.
By taking a few, common sense precautions, people can help to protect themselves and their loved ones:
Avoid Mosquito Bites
- Apply Insect Repellent when you go outdoors. Use a repellent with DEET (N, N-diethyl-m- toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus [p- methane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] according to the instructions on the product label.
- Clothing Can Help reduce mosquito bites. Although it may be difficult to do when it’s hot, wearing long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.
- Be Aware of Peak Mosquito Hours: The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. When risk is increased, consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning. If you are outdoors at any time and notice mosquitoes around you, take steps to avoid being bitten by moving indoors, covering up and/or wearing repellant.
• Risk of mosquito borne diseases will continue until there is a hard frost that eliminates the mosquito population.
Mosquito-Proof Your Home
- Drain Standing Water – Many mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by either draining or getting rid of items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty any unused flowerpots and wading pools and change water in birdbaths frequently.
- Install or Repair Screens – Some mosquitoes like to come indoors. Keep them outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all your windows and doors.
Information about WNV and reports of current and historical WNV virus activity in Massachusetts can be found on the MDPH website at: www.mass.gov/dph/mosquito.