Director's Corner

West Nile Virus

West Nile Virus

No, I don’t think you need to wear a bug hood like I did in Alaska this summer.  We would, however, suggest good mosquito repellent during mosquito season.

West Nile Virus is a viral infection that is spread by mosquito bites.  It was first identified in 1999 in New York City.  Outbreaks are sporadic and unpredictable.  40% of cases occur in Texas.

Most people (75%) who are infected with West Nile Virus have no symptoms and their immune systems fight off the infection effectively.  People who do have symptoms usually have fever, headache, vomiting or rash.  There is no specific treatment for West Nile Virus other than supportive care (fluids, rest and general bodily support).

A very small percentage of people (1%) who contract the virus from a mosquito develop encephalitis (infection of the brain) or meningitis (infection of the area around the brain).  West Nile Virus is not contagious from person to person in casual contact.

Vaccines are being developed for this virus.  There is already one licensed for horses.

In Massachusetts there have been a total of 13 cases of West Nile Virus reported.

During mosquito season you can protect yourself from mosquito bites by eliminating standing water where mosquitoes breed:

  • Unclog gutters
  • Empty unused swimming pools or empty standing water on pool covers
  • Change water in birdbaths and pet bowls regularly
  • Remove old tires or unused containers that collect water
  • Install or repair window and door screens.

Here are some other preventive measures:

  • Bug repellent applied to skin and clothing
  • Wear long sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors
  • When outside, cover infant strollers and playpens with mosquito netting.

Enjoy the nice weather. And be careful out there.

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