WESTBOROUGH, Mass. — The West Nile Virus has been detected in mosquitoes collected in Westborough, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced Wednesday.
According to Westborough Sanitarian Steven Baccari, Westborough residents should use the same precautions they use to protect against Eastern Equine Encephalitis. A MetroWest man in his 60’s was recently diagnosed with EEE after falling ill late last month, the Department of Public Health said Wednesday. The man reported traveling to several Mid-Atlantic states, where he received a significant number of mosquito bites. He was eventually hospitalized and released.
As of yet, the Department does not know the state where the man contracted the virus. EEE was also detected in Westborough in late July and again Aug. 1, though this is the first time it has been found in humans this season. The last two such cases, which occurred in Aug. 2011, were the infection of an out-of-state tourist and the infection and death of a Bristol County man.
Baccari said residents should limit outdoor activities during prime mosquito hours — dawn and dusk — use repellent and wear long-sleeved clothing and long pants when possible.
The appearance of West Nile in Westborough isn't completely surprising, Baccari said, because the virus has been detected throughout the state. The last year it was found here was in 2009.
"It's endemic to the state now," Baccari said. "We need to learn to live with it to a point."
Mosquitoes infected with West Nile were collected on July 31 in the Hadley Lane area. That area was already sprayed by the Central Massachusetts Mosquito Control Project, along with Summer Street Extension, on Aug. 2.
Baccari said the town will work with CMMCP to determine when to spray the area again.
According to the Mass. Department of Public Health, West Nile is most commonly transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. West Nile can infect anyone, but people 50 and older are at higher risk for severe infection.
Health officials consider EEE to be a more serious disease, especially for those under 15 and over 50. EEE often results in a swelling or inflammation of the brain known as encephalitis, which in turn can cause comas, permanent brain damage and even death.
Baccari said that residents need to remain vigilant throughout the season and until the first hard frost kills off the mosquitoes.