LUDLOW, Mass. (WWLP) – A case of West Nile Virus has been identified in the towns of Ludlow and Chicopee, and now health officials are urging people to take precautions.
Neil Paquette, Chairman of the Ludlow Board of Health, confirmed for 22News that a water sample in Ludlow tested positive for West Nile Virus. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health also confirmed a mosquito in Chicopee tested positive for the virus on July 27th.
No human cases of West Nile Virus have been reported in Massachusetts this year, so far; mosquito samples have tested positive for the virus throughout the state.
Bill Swift, a Ludlow resident who lives near the town reservoir, told 22News he now worries about the infected water sample found close to his home. “Definitely worried about it. I think about it all the time. Every time I get a mosquito bite, I think ‘I hope that’s not the one.’ ”
West Nile Virus is spread by mosquitoes. According for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most people who become infected with the virus do not exhibit any symptoms. Others may develop fever, body aches, rash, diarrhea, nausea, or joint pains. In rare cases, the virus can lead to neurological disease like meningitis or encephalitis, though West Nile Virus is not to be confused with Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), which is also spread by mosquitoes.
Ludlow resident Daniel Jasinski told 22News the virus doesn’t concern him too much, unless it causes drastic health issues. “If something happened to a person, like, this person is sick and is dying from it, then I would be worried, but other than that, no.”
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.