Don’t bug out over West Nile virus

Mosquito carrying virus detected in Vineyard Haven park.

0
The entrance to Veterans Memorial Park in Tisbury- Lucas Thors

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) announced today that West Nile virus

(WNV) has been detected in a mosquito collected in Tisbury on August 28. The mosquito was collected from the Veterans Park area of Tisbury.

The alert was sent out by the Tisbury Health Department.

“We sent it out not to be overly scared or worried, but to take precautions,” health agent Maura Valley told The Times. “Use mosquito repellant and get rid of standing water.”

Valley urged people to be especially vigilant when mosquitoes are more active like dusk and dawn, something she’s noticed on her own walks with her dog.

Recently, the DPH raised the risk level for West Nile virus in all of Massachusetts from low, to moderate. The hot and humid weather has created a perfect environment for mosquitoes that carry the virus to mate and reproduce.

As we progress through the sultry days of the latest heat-spell, Islanders, along with all Massachusetts residents, are encouraged to do whatever they can to avoid being bitten.

According to the DPH, the best ways to avoid infection are to stay inside during dusk and dawn hours, wear long pants, shirts, and socks if you are exposed to mosquitoes, and wear the proper insect repellant to dissuade any thirsty bugs.

Any standing water close to home should be emptied, in order to eliminate possible breeding grounds for mosquitos. Also, any holes in screen doors or windows should be fixed so that bugs cannot find their way inside.

The Associated Press reported earlier this month that mosquitoes carrying the virus were found in five Cape Cod towns, including Falmouth.

The last time a mosquito with West Nile was found on Island was five years ago. “In 2013, we had a West Nile virus mosquito from Cranberry Acres area off of Lambert’s Cove Road,” Valley said.

Now that West Nile virus has been reported here on the Island, the importance of taking preventative measures is all the more palpable.

Although many people don’t even encounter symptoms when they are infected with West Nile, 1 in 150 people report developing serious symptoms such as meningitis and encephalitis.

If you are bitten by a mosquito and experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, body aches, skin rash, and headache, contact the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) at 888-232-6348, or call the DPH at 617-983-6800.

For more information, visit the DPH website at mass.gov/dph/mosquito.