MDPH Weekly Flu Report 2/16/2018

MDPH Weekly Flu Report 2/16/2018

Based on the MDPH Weekly Flu Report dated February 16th, 2018, Influenza-like illness activity (ILI) is continuing to trend upward with a slight increase reported over the seven days prior to February 16th. The percentage of ILI visits reported by sentinel provider sites is at 5.55%, a trend substantially higher than the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 flu seasons. 

The Metro Boston/Metro West area is still experiencing high ILI activity levels with Massachusetts Sentinel Sites reporting 6.01% in the Metro West area and 2.97% in the Metro Boston area. Type A flu continues to make up the majority of the laboratory-confirmed cases across the state. 

Laboratory-confirmed influenza hospitalizations in Massachusetts also remain high at 56.52. 

John Jacob, a health communication writer and editor for the Mass Public Health Blog, in the article titled: Weekly Flu Report, February 16, 2018 is encouraging those who have not received flu shots yet, to do so. The article encourages people to contact their healthcare providers or visit https://vaccinefinder.org/ to obtain a flu vaccine. 

August 16: West Nile Virus

As of today, 82 mosquito samples across Massachusetts have been found to be positive for West Nile Virus (WNV). As of today, there have been no confirmed cases of WNV in humans, but the risk remains tends to peak in August for WNV transmission (Tuoti & Geller, 2017). According to Dr. Catherine Brown, deputy state epidemiologist for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, as quoted by Tuoti and Geller (2017), current weather patterns will be supportive of West Nile Virus mosquito populations, which increases this mosquito population's activity. 

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) encourages residents in Massachusetts to:

  • Use insect repellents 
  • Wear long-sleeved clothing
  • Avoid activities around dawn and dusk
  • Repair damaged window or door screens 
  • Remove standing water from areas around your home, as the type of Mosquito that carries WNV, tends to reside in standing water. 


For more information on WNV, including Clinical Signs & Symptoms and Diagnosis & Reporting, please follow the links below:

  • CDC: West Nile Virus. This link brings you to the WNV for Health Care Providers Clinical Evaluation & Disease part of the CDC page on WNV. It outlines Diagnosis & Reporting, Clinical Signs & Symptoms, Clinical Evaluation, and Outcomes.
  • Massachusetts Department of Public Health Mosquito-borne Diseases. This page brings you to the MDPH page on Mosquito-borne diseases. Here you can find General Information and FAQs and guidance on Prevention & Control, Surveillance Plan, Summaries & Data, WNV for Healthcare Providers and Veterinarians, and Travel-related Mosquito-borne diseases. Additionally, there are educational materials and helpful links/resources. 
  • MDPH Arbovirus Daily Update. Here you can find information about the communities at highest risk for WNV and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).


Tuoti, G., & Geller, S. (2017, August 15). Needham health officials urge caution against mosquitoes. Retrieved August 16, 2017, from http://needham.wickedlocal.com/news/20170815/needham-health-officials-urge-caution-against-mosquitoes

August 9th: Updated Zika Virus Clinical Guidance

This notice is from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health

Catherine M. Brown, dvm, msc, mph

Deputy State Epidemiologist and State Public Health Veterinarian

To our partners in healthcare and public health-

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has updated its guidance around testing of pregnant women potentially exposed to Zika in response to new information published by CDC. The MDPH recommendations are in-line with CDC guidance and continue to recommend appropriately timed testing for symptomatic pregnant patients. Testing of asymptomatic pregnant patients should be considered and can be requested through commercial laboratories where Zika virus testing is now widely available. There is a continued strong recommendation around complete evaluation of infants born to mothers with potential Zika virus exposure during pregnancy, regardless of the mother’s laboratory testing status. Zika virus laboratory test interpretation remains complex as are questions around timing of conception following potential exposure and recommended duration of condom use to prevent sexual transmission. MDPH epidemiology staff are available 24/7 at 617-983-6800 to assist with interpretation and decision-making as needed.


Attached please find the updated guidance which will also be available shortly  on our website at www.mass.gov/zika.

August 8th Massachusetts Department of Public Health Press Release on Mosquito Borne Disease


Lieutenant Governor




Residents urged to use bug spray to avoid getting bitten


BOSTON (August 08, 2017)—The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced that 36 additional communities are now at moderate risk for West Nile virus (WNV), bringing the total number of communities at moderate risk to 59 spread across eight counties. Moderate risk means mosquito activity is substantial enough that people should use personal protection to avoid being bitten by a mosquito. There have been no human cases of WNV this year.
The eight counties are Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Worcester, Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Suffolk counties. The Pioneer Valley in western Massachusetts and Worcester and its surrounding communities are experiencing more West Nile virus positive mosquito activity this year than in a typical season, said DPH Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Catherine Brown.
“The Boston area is usually a focus of WNV activity, but this year we are seeing evidence of widespread WNV infection in mosquitoes with particularly significant activity in and around Worcester and in the Pioneer Valley,” Dr. Brown said.
“I encourage everyone to use the tools of prevention, including applying mosquito repellent with an EPA-registered ingredient according to the directions on the label, wearing clothing to reduce exposed skin when weather permits, draining standing water to prevent mosquito breeding and repairing window screens to keep mosquitoes out of your home,” she said. Dr. Brown warned that “August and early September are when we see most of our WNV infections in people.”
WNV is usually transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. In 2016, there were 16 human cases of WNV infection identified in Massachusetts. While WNV can infect persons 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 the 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
Animal owners should reduce potential mosquito breeding sites on their property by eliminating standing water from containers such as buckets, tires, and wading pools – especially after heavy rains. Water troughs 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 owners should keep horses 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 by calling 617-983-6800.
More information, including all WNV and EEE positive results, can be found on the Arbovirus Surveillance Information web page at www.mass.gov/dph/mosquito or by calling the DPH Epidemiology Program at 617-983-6800.

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For Immediate Release  |  Further Information:
 Ann Scales  |  Ann.Scales@state.ma.us  |  (617) 624-5006

A link to the Massachusetts Arbovirus Daily Report can be found in the Regional Resources section under LINKS. Click the button below to be directed to the Regional Resources section.