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Two Additional Cambridge Residents Diagnosed with West Nile Virus

Risk of infection continues until first hard frost

October 11, 2018

The Cambridge Public Health Department announced today that two additional Cambridge residents have been diagnosed with West Nile virus.  The cases are a woman in her 30s who was hospitalized and has since been discharged, and a woman in her 40s who developed symptoms in August and was not hospitalized.
The other Cambridge case this year was a woman in her 60s who became ill at the end of July and was not hospitalized.
As of Oct. 10, the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases statewide is 38, the highest number has ever recorded in the Commonwealth in a single year.
Even as the days and nights get cooler, mosquitoes will continue to be active until the first hard frost, which typically occurs in early November.
"While it's no longer peak season for West Nile virus, the risk of infection persists until the first hard frost,” said Claude Jacob, chief public health officer and director of the Cambridge Public Health Department. “Residents should continue to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites between dusk and dawn.”
Most human West Nile virus infections are mild with no symptoms, but a small number of people become very sick with encephalitis or meningitis. For those who have symptoms, they include fever and flu-like illness. More severe symptoms include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, tremors, muscle weakness, and paralysis.
If you think you have symptoms of West Nile virus, contact your doctor or nurse.
People over 50 and those with weakened immune systems are at greatest risk for severe illness.
The easiest and best way to prevent West Nile virus is to avoid mosquito bites. Some tips:
  • Apply insect repellant when outdoors. Use insect repellant containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535. Follow the directions on the package. DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age and should be used in concentrations of 30% or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age.
  • 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.
  • Get rid of mosquito breeding sites in your yard. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in still water. Empty standing water from flower pots, buckets, barrels, and children’s pools. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths weekly. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out.
  • Make sure that window and door screens fit tightly and are in good condition.
State and county information about West Nile virus and reports of West Nile virus activity in Massachusetts can be found on the state health department website at: www.mass.gov/dph/mosquito.
For local West Nile virus updates and prevention tips, call the Cambridge Public Health Department at 617-665-3838 or visit http://www.cambridgepublichealth.org/services/environmental-health/mosquito-borne-diseases/west-nile-virus.php.


Suzy Feinberg, MPH
Public Information Officer

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