BOSTON (AP) — State public health officials say a woman has died of West Nile virus, the second fatality this year.
The Department of Public Health said Thursday it was the sixth human case of West Nile virus in Massachusetts this year. The woman was not identified, but officials say she was a Suffolk County resident in her 90s who likely contracted the virus in the Suffolk County area.
She was hospitalized due to the severity of the illness.
Officials say there is no elevation of risk of West Nile virus as a consequence. The risk level for Boston, Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop is already classified as “high.”
State Public Health Veterinarian Catherine Brown says that even as cooler temperatures approach, Massachusetts is still in “peak season” for possible West Nile virus infection.
Below are tips from the DPH on how to avoid mosquitoes borne illnesses:
Avoid Mosquito Bites
Apply Insect Repellent when Outdoors: Use a repellent with DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-methane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] or IR3535 according to the instructions on the product label.
DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age and should be used in concentrations of 30% or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age.
Be Aware of Peak Mosquito Hours: The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning.
Clothing Can Help Reduce Mosquito Bites: Wearing long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.
Mosquito-Proof Your Home
Drain Standing Water: Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by either draining or discarding 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: Keep mosquitoes outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all of your windows and doors.
Protect Your Animals
Animal owners should reduce potential mosquito breeding sites on their property by eliminating standing water from containers such as buckets, tires, and wading pools – especially after heavy rains.
Water troughs provide excellent mosquito breeding habitats and should be flushed out at least once a week during the summer months to reduce mosquitoes near paddock areas.
Horse owners should keep horses in indoor stalls at night to reduce their risk of exposure to mosquitoes. Owners should also speak with their veterinarian about mosquito repellents approved for use in animals and vaccinations to prevent WNV and EEE.
If an animal is diagnosed with WNV or EEE, owners are required to report to DAR, Division of Animal Health by calling 617-626-1795 and to the Department of Public Health (DPH) by calling 617-983-6800.
More information, including all WNV and EEE positive results from 2014, can be found on the Arbovirus Surveillance Information web page at www.mass.gov/dph/mosquito or by calling the DPH Epidemiology Program at 617-983-6800.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press