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Caution urged after Medford mosquitoes test positive for West Nile

West Nile mosquito

Mosquito samples in Medford have tested positive for West Nile Virus, Public Health Director Natasha Waden reported Friday, July 2.

No human cases of the virus have been detected this year, but she said it is important for residents to be aware and take precautions to prevent mosquito bites.

“We want to remind residents that the possibility of contracting a mosquito-borne illness remains as long as West Nile Virus is circulating in the area,” Waden said in a news release. “We advise residents to be smart when outdoors, especially around dawn and dusk, and to take precautions around your home to prevent mosquito breeding.”

West Nile is most commonly transmitted to humans by the bite of a mosquito infected with the virus. In 2020, there were eight human cases of West Nile in Massachusetts. While the virus can infect people of all ages, people over the age of 50 are at higher risk for severe infection.

The Town of Arlington works to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes by treating all stormwater catch basins in town and wetland areas, and by working with property owners to remove large sources of standing water like abandoned swimming pools.

Last year, the state Department of Public Health announced on July 30 that West Nile Virus has been detected in mosquitoes collected from Arlington. 

In 2019, 8,295 mosquito samples were tested for the virus, and 87 samples were positive. Arlington had zero West Nile-positive mosquito samples identified in 2019.

In addition, the Arlington Board of Health recommends the following safety tips:

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.
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 percent or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under 3 years old.
  • 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.

This news announcement was published Friday, July 2, 2021. Providing the information was Jordan Mayblum, who works for John Guilfoile Public Relations.

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