BOSTON (WPRI) — Less than a week after reporting that two mosquito samples tested positive for eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), the Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced Thursday that an additional two mosquito samples have tested positive for West Nile Virus.
This is the first detection of West Nile Virus this year in Massachusetts , according to Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel.
Both samples were collected on July 7 in Belmont. The state did not elevate any risk levels due to these findings.
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“It is important to remember that West Nile Virus can cause very serious illness, especially in individuals over 50 and those who are immunocompromised,” Bharel said.
In Massachusetts, there were five human cases of West Nile Virus in 2019 and 49 in 2018, according to the DPH. There have been no human cases of West Nile Virus or EEE so far this year.
“People have an important role to play in protecting themselves and their loved ones from illnesses caused by mosquitoes,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Catherine Brown said.
The state’s first EEE-positive samples were found in Wendell and Orange, raising the risk level for potential infection in both towns, as well as nearby Athol and New Salem, to moderate.
Last year’s mosquito season began quietly but quickly erupted in Southern New England, raising EEE-risk levels significantly across both Rhode Island and Massachusetts. At least one person died from EEE in Rhode Island, six deaths in Massachusetts and three in Connecticut.