BOSTON (WHDH) – The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced Thursday that the first case of West Nile Virus (WNV) has been detected in a Boston resident.
The case was also confirmed by the State Department of Public Health earlier that day. Although mosquito pools have tested positive for WNV in Boston, it is unknown if the patient in question was exposed to the virus in Boston. This is the first case detected in Boston 2022.
WNV is a rare, but potentially serious disease that is spread to humans through mosquito bites. Mosquitoes carrying the virus appear in Boston, as well as the rest of the state, during the summer and fall months. WNV can also spread through blood transfusions, organ transplants and from mother to child during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Officials said anyone who is outside from July through November, especially at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active, is at risk of contracting the virus. People over 50 and those with compromised immune systems are more likely to experience severe illness if infected.
Most people who are infected with WNV do not experience any signs or symptoms of illness. In some cases, people will experience a headache, fever, nausea, vomiting and body aches in some cases which can last from a few days to several weeks.
More serious symptoms, which can result in hospitalization, include:
- High fever
- Severe headache
- Lack of coordination
- Permanent muscle weakness/paralysis
Health officials advise individuals to seek emergency medical care if they or someone they know is experiencing severe WNV symptoms.
The best way to avoid contracting the virus is to avoid getting bug bites, health experts said.
“The Boston Public Health Commission is working closely with our partners at the State Department of Public Health to monitor mosquito pools and investigate this infection,” said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Commissioner of Public Health and Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission. “During this time of the year and into the fall, it’s very important for residents to take proper precautions. Use bug spray, avoid being outside at dusk and dawn for prolonged periods of time, and wear long clothing to avoid becoming infected.”
The Boston Public Health Commission encourages Massachusetts residents the following precautions:
- Use and reapply FDA-approved mosquito repellant when outdoors
- Wear protective clothing such as long sleeve shirts, long pants and socks
- Limit time outdoors at dawn and dusk when mosquitos are most active
- Make sure windows and screens don’t have holes or gaps that can allow mosquitoes to enter the home
- Eliminate standing water around living residences, which is where mosquitoes breed
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