On July 18, 2016, the communities of Auburn, Brookline, Millbury, and Worcester all had the West Nile Virus risk level raised from low to moderate risk due to recent positive mosquito sampling testing. This is a routine risk level change for this time of year with the warmer temperatures and the resulting, larger mosquito populations, so residents are reminded to use bug spray and personal protection to avoid getting bitten.

WNV is usually transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. In 2015, there were ten human cases of WNV infection identified in Massachusetts. While WNV can infect people of all ages, people over the age of 50 are at higher risk for severe disease. 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.

People have an important role to play in protecting themselves and their loved ones from illnesses caused by mosquitoes.

Avoid Mosquito Bites & Apply Insect Repellent When Outdoors.
Use a repellent with an EPA-registered ingredient (DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-methane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] or IR3535) 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.

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 in areas of high risk.

Clothing Can Help Reduce Mosquito Bites.
Wearing long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.

Mosquito-Proof Your Home & Drain Standing Water.
Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by either draining or discarding items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty any unused flowerpots and wading pools, and change water in birdbaths frequently.

Install or Repair Screens.
Keep mosquitoes outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all of your windows and doors.

Protect Your Animals
Water troughs and buckets provide excellent mosquito breeding habitats and should be flushed out at least once a week during the summer months to reduce mosquitoes near paddock areas. Horse, llama and alpaca owners should keep animals in indoor stalls at night to reduce their risk of exposure to mosquitoes. Owners should also speak with their veterinarian about mosquito repellents approved for use in animals and vaccinations to prevent WNV and EEE. If an animal is suspected of having WNV or EEE, owners are required to report to DAR, Division of Animal Health by calling 617-626-1795 and to the Department of Public Health (DPH) by calling 617-983-6800.

More information, including all WNV and EEE positive results, can be accessed from the Arbovirus Surveillance Information web page atwww.mass.gov/dph/mosquito or by calling the DPH Epidemiology Program at 617-983-6800 or the Auburn Board of Health at 508-832-7703.