Submitted by the Bedford Board of Health
While NO West Nile Virus positive mosquitoes or human cases have been reported in Bedford so far this season, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) announced yesterday — Thursday, July 26, 2018 — that West Nile virus (WNV) has been detected in mosquitoes collected from Arlington, Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Clarksburg, Lexington, Newton, and Stockbridge. The identification of mosquitoes in nearby communities resulted in MDPH raising the WNV Risk Level for Bedford from low to moderate.
Statewide last year, 5,496 mosquito samples were tested for WNV and as a result, 290 (5.3%) were positive for WNV. Positive mosquito samples included 277 (96%) Culex species, 4 of which were collected from Bedford. In total, positive samples were identified in 89 towns in 12 counties. WNV is most commonly transmitted to humans by the bite of a mosquito infected with the virus. While WNV can infect people of all ages, people over the age of fifty (50) are at higher risk for severe infection.
Culex mosquitoes are the primary vectors of West Nile Virus. The virus is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. The mosquitoes that carry this virus are common throughout the state and are found in urban as well as more rural areas. While most mosquito species develop in wetlands, Culex mosquitoes prefer to lay their eggs in catch basins, clogged rain gutters, unused tires, buckets and other water-holding containers. Residents have an important role to play in reducing the risk of WNV and protecting themselves and their loved ones by taking a few, common-sense precautions.
Because of the role of Culex mosquitoes transmitting West Nile Virus, residents can help combat this disease by mosquito-proofing their property. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to develop by draining or getting rid of those items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains, empty any unused flowerpots and wading pools, and change the water in birdbaths. All areas of standing water should be dumped twice weekly. Install or Repair Screens – Some mosquitoes like to come indoors. Keep them outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all of your windows and doors.
You may also avoid Mosquito bites by following these simple steps:
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. Otherwise, take extra care to use repellent and protective clothing.
Clothing and mosquito netting can help reduce mosquito bites. Although it may be difficult to do when it’s hot, wearing long-sleeves, long pants, and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin. Additionally, when a moderate WNV risk exists, use of mosquito netting on baby carriages and playpens is recommended.
Apply Insect Repellent when you go outdoors. Use a repellent with DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-methane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] according to the instructions on the product label. 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. Permethrin products are intended for use on items such as clothing, shoes, bed nets and camping gear and should not be applied to skin.
The Bedford Board of Health will continue to work with the MDPH and the Eastern Middlesex Mosquito Control Project (EMMCP) to monitor the mosquito populations for WNV. In July 2018, the Bedford DPW treated catch basins in town to reduce the presence of mosquito larvae. Additionally, based on acquired surveillance data from four mosquito trap locations in town, the EMMCP will continue with truck-mounted spraying events in Bedford to reduce populations adult biting mosquitoes. Should you wish to exclude your property from mosquito spraying, navigate to https://www.mass.gov/how-to/how-to-request-exclusion-from-wide-area-pesticides-application for information on how to submit your exclusion request. This is the only method by which you can exclude your property.
Information about WNV and reports of WNV activity in Massachusetts during 2018 can be found on the Arbovirus page on the MDPH website at https://www.mass.gov/mosquito-borne-diseases. Facts sheets on WNV and other mosquito-related materials are available by contacting the Bedford Board of Health at 781-275-6507 or by accessing our website at https://www.bedfordma.gov/health.