Town Update on West Nile Virus and Mosquitos

August 8, 2023

Submitted by Town of Bedford

Mosquitos testing positive for the West Nile Virus (WNV) have been detected in the neighboring town of Burlington and the nearby city of Waltham. The risk of WNV and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in Bedford remains low as no positive mosquito samples have been identified in town. 

Culex mosquitoes are the primary vectors of WNV. The virus is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. Most people infected with WNV will have no symptoms. When present, WNV symptoms tend to include fever and flu-like illness. In rare cases, more severe illness can occur.

While WNV can infect people of all ages, people over the age of 50 are at higher risk for severe infection. 

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The mosquitoes that carry WNV 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. 

Mosquito Control in Bedford

The Bedford Health Department continues to work with the MDPH and the Eastern Middlesex Mosquito Control Project (EMMCP) to monitor local mosquito populations for mosquito-borne diseases such as WNV and EEE. Bedford has a robust mosquito control program that includes an annual helicopter application of biological larvicide to wetland areas in town by EMMCP and each summer the Bedford DPW treats catch basins in town. 

Furthermore, the EMMPC has conducted several truck-mounted and areal sprays in town so far this year. Based on acquired surveillance data from five mosquito trap locations in town, the next truck mounted sprays were scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. Mosquito spraying events are announced via the Health Department website at https://www.bedfordma.gov/health-department.

Although mosquito populations and risk for mosquito-borne disease remain low, it is still important to be vigilant when engaging in outdoor activities, particularly between dusk and dawn, and avoid mosquito bites.

Reduce Your Risk for Mosquito Bites

Residents have an important role to play in reducing the risk of WNV and EEE and protecting themselves and their loved ones by taking a few, common-sense precautions even in times of low disease risk. The best protection is prevention. 

Mosquito Proof Your Property – Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to develop by either draining or getting rid of items that hold water such as buckets. Check rain gutters and drains, empty any unused flowerpots and wading pools, and change water in birdbaths frequently. Install or repair screens, as some mosquitoes like to come indoors. Keep them outside by having tightly fitting screens on all open windows and doors.

Be Aware of Peak Mosquito Hours – The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. Take care to use insect repellent or consider limiting time outdoors during these hours.

Clothing 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.

Apply Insect Repellent When 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 only intended for use on items such as clothing, shoes, bed nets and camping gear and should not be applied to skin. 

Use the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Tool to find the right insect repellent for your needs: https://www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/find-repellent-right-you – search%20tool

Protect Your Animals – Speak with your veterinarian about mosquito repellents approved for use in animals and vaccinations to prevent WNV and EEE. Keep animal or pet vaccinations and medications current.

Information about mosquito activity in Massachusetts may be found on the Mosquito-borne Disease page on the MDPH website at https://www.mass.gov/mosquito-borne-diseases. Facts sheets on WNV, EEE and other mosquito-related materials are available by contacting the Bedford Health Department at 781-275-6507 or by accessing the Health Department website at https://www.bedfordma.gov/health-department

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