Massachusetts reports 1st human case of West Nile virus

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(Photo by Jack Leonard/New Orleans Mosquito and Termite Control Board/Getty Images)

BOSTON (WPRI) — Health officials in Massachusetts are urging residents to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites after reporting the first human case of West Nile virus on Wednesday.

The woman in her 80s was likely exposed to the virus in Middlesex County, an area known to be at moderate risk of transmission, according to the Mass. Department of Public Health.

“This is the first time that West Nile virus infection has been identified in a person in Massachusetts this year,” acting Public Health Commissioner Margret Cooke said. “Risk from West Nile virus has been slow to increase this year. This is an important reminder that we all need to continue to take steps to protect ourselves and our families from mosquito bites.”

Health officials say the risk of human infection is considered moderate in the Greater Boston area, along with several cities and towns in Bristol and Worcester counties.

The substantial amount of rain during the month of July and the recent hot weather has resulted in an increase in the population of mosquitoes known to spread the virus, according to the DPH.

In 2020, there were five human cases of West Nile virus identified in Massachusetts.

While West Nile can infect people of all ages, people ages 50 and older are at higher risk for severe disease.

Aside from avoiding mosquito bites, officials urge residents to mosquito-proof their homes.

Information about current mosquito activity can be found online or by calling the DPH’s Epidemiology Program at (617) 983-6800.

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