A report from the Boston Globe published last week indicates a mosquito sample in Weymouth, MA, tested positive for West Nile Virus. The mosquito marks the first to test positive for the virus in Massachusetts this year, according to the Department of Public Health.
To date, no animals or humans have tested positive for the disease. While a statement released said there is no elevated risk level or risk-level change associated with this finding, staying mosquito smart is important.
What is West Nile Virus (WNV)?
West Nile virus is transmitted by mosquitoes from birds to people. First found in Uganda in 1937, WNV has spread globally. Its flulike symptoms include fever, headache, and body aches. More serious symptoms include disorientation, muscle weakness, neck stiffness and more. Eighty percent of West Nile cases will never display any symptoms. The Weymouth area in which this infected bird was found is a part of the Massachusetts South Shore area also includes Quincey, Hingham and Cohasset. The presence of the virus is a serious public health concern. West Nile doesn’t affect a lot of people, but it has the possibility of making someone very sick. Approximately 1/4 of those infected with the virus will show no symptoms at all. However, 1% of that fourth can suffer from encephalitis, which is dangerous and can be deadly. One preventable death is one too many.
How Can I Stay Safe From WNV?
Summer has settled in. It’s been hot and wet. Not all of us love it when it gets this way, but boy the mosquitoes do. It’s this part of summer that we start to hear about West Nile virus cases popping up, like the mosquito in Weymouth that tested positive for the virus last week.
— WNV is spread through by mosquitoes from birds.
Testing and tracking for the virus helps to keep us protected. Knowing where it is present helps community government and control agencies in planning for area-wide treatment when necessary. Although dead birds found by homeowners are no longer being tested for WNV and do not need to be reported to the Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health, certain situations, however, should be reported to other agencies.
• Report sick, dying, or recently dead waterfowl (duck and geese), shorebirds (sandpipers, plovers) or other waterbirds (herons) found at any location(s) to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MDFW), Westborough Field Headquarters at 508-389-6300 or the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) at 413-253-2403.
• Larger bird die-offs of other species can be reported to the closest district office of the MDFW.
*For the complete list and recommendations on safely disposing of dead birds, visit Frequently Asked Questions about Dead Birds and WNV.
Other ways to keep your community safe is by making sure the surroundings are not a breeding ground. Keep areas free of standing water and follow the 7Ts of mosquito control. Follow these at home and maybe even make it a neighborhood project. It benefits everyone to cut down on the mosquito population. On the homefront, utilizing our mosquito control protection program can reduce the mosquitoes by up to 90% in your Weymouth-area yard. When you are spending time outdoors in unprotected areas, don’t forget to use your repellent and possibly even cover your arms and legs during the dawn and dusk hours.
Mosquito Squad of Boston Metro South serves Abington, Avon, Braintree, Brockton (02301), Canton, Cohasset, Dorchester (02124), Hingham, Holbrook, Hull, Hyde Park, Mattapan, Milton, Quincy, Randolph, Weymouth and Wollaston.