Four Human Cases of West Nile Virus Confirmed in Boston Residents

BOSTON – The Boston Public Health Commission yesterday announced another confirmed human case of West Nile Virus (WNV) this year. The case, an East Boston resident in his 40’s, was hospitalized but has been released.

Earlier this month, a woman in her 50’s, a man in his 40’s, and a man in his 50’s were hospitalized with WNV and released.

Last month, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health elevated the WNV threat level for Boston and several surrounding communities after confirming other human cases of WNV in the region. In Boston, many neighborhoods have had mosquito pools test positive for the virus.

Boston public health officials continue to remind residents to take simple precautions to reduce their risk of exposure to mosquitoes.

“Mosquitoes carrying West Nile are present in Boston, and will be until the first hard frost,” said Dr. Anita Barry, director of the Infectious Disease Bureau at the Boston Public Health Commission. “It’s vital that all residents take some simple precautions to avoid getting bitten.”

These steps include using insect repellant when outdoors, especially from dusk to dawn when mosquitoes are more likely to be biting and, when possible, wearing clothing that includes long sleeves and pants.  People can prevent mosquitoes from entering their homes by making sure that window and door screens are in good repair.

To help prevent mosquitoes from breeding, BPHC advises limiting places around the home where standing water can collect.  People should turn over unused flower pots, buckets, wheelbarrows, and garbage cans; remove leaves and other debris that can clog gutters and trap water; dispose of or cover old tires; and cover swimming pools and kiddie pools when not in use.

In addition, city officials, in conjunction with Suffolk County Mosquito Control, have applied larvicide in catch basins throughout Boston to reduce the adult mosquito population.

BPHC is also coordinating closely with the state Department of Public Health and the city’s Parks Department, Boston Public Schools, Boston Centers for Youth & Families, the Commission on Elderly Affairs, and the Mayor’s Office of Special Events to provide educational materials and guidance on holding outdoor evening activities.

Most people infected with WNV are asymptomatic or have mild illness. However, in rare cases, illness can be more serious. WNV is most commonly transmitted to humans by the bite of a mosquito infected with the virus, but the risk of becoming ill can be reduced by taking these simple precautions.

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