Mosquito Borne Viruses

West Nile Virus in Massachusetts

As of August 31st, 2018, there are 5 cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) in humans in Massachusetts. 

Boston and some neighboring communities are at high risk for WNV according to the Massachusetts Health and Human Services Arbovirus Daily Update. The rest of Massachusetts is at moderate risk.

To read the latest news on a 2nd case of WNV in Boston, click the link below for a Channel 5 WCVB article:

For more resources on how to mitigate your risk and monitor risk levels in your community, click the links below:

State health officials announce fourth case of West Nile virus in Massachusetts

Risk level raised to high in 11 Greater Boston communities

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) announced on August 27th, 2018, the fourth human case of West Nile virus (WNV) in the state this year. The person is a woman in her 50s from Middlesex County who was never hospitalized for her illness. Three other cases were reported on Friday.

Investigations conducted by state public health officials indicate that at least two of the four cases were exposed in the greater Boston area leading them to raise the risk level from moderate to high for 11 communities in the area. Those communities are Arlington, Boston, Belmont, Brookline, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Medford, Newton, Somerville, and Watertown, according to DPH.

“Several individuals from the same area have developed West Nile virus,” said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH. “That means that there is an increased risk in this specific area and that additional people could become infected. We are particularly concerned about people over 50 and those who are immunocompromised as they are the ones most likely to develop WNV disease.”

On August 21, DPH raised the risk level for West Nile virus from low to moderate in every Massachusetts city and town. It was only the second time since WNV was first detected in the Commonwealth in 2000 that public health officials have raised the risk level statewide.

For those 11 communities now at high-risk, DPH recommends that local health officials intensify messaging to raise awareness and promote personal protective behaviors, target outreach to high-risk populations, and increase surveillance for human disease.

People at high risk for severe illness are encouraged to consider avoiding outdoor activity at dusk and dawn. Local boards of health should continue to work directly with their Mosquito Control District to determine appropriate control measures.

“It is extremely important for people to take steps to avoid mosquito bites, including using repellents, wearing clothing to reduce exposed skin, dumping standing water, and moving indoors when you notice mosquitoes biting you," said DPH State Epidemiologist Dr. Catherine Brown.

In 2017, there were 6 human cases of WNV infection identified in Massachusetts.

WNV is usually transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. 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.

Massachusetts Department of Public Health. (2018, August 27). State health officials announce fourth case of West Nile virus in Massachusetts. Retrieved August 28, 2018, from https://www.mass.gov/news/state-health-officials-announce-fourth-case-of-west-nile-virus-in-massachusetts

November 6th: Statewide Announcements

STATE PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALS ANNOUNCE FOURTH HUMAN CASE
OF WEST NILE VIRUS IN MASSACHUSETTS

Mosquito season winding down slowly

BOSTON (October 31, 2017) – The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced the fourth human case of West Nile virus (WNV) in the state this year. The patient is a resident of Middlesex County in her 70s who was confirmed with WNV by testing completed by the Massachusetts State Public Health Laboratory. The patient was hospitalized during her illness.
 
“This October was the one of the warmest on record and this has kept the risk of mosquito-borne disease elevated,” said DPH Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Catherine Brown. “The season is winding down but mosquitoes remain a risk, especially during warm days.  Risk of infection will continue until we have a hard freeze. ”
 
There have been three other cases of WNV infection in people this year: a resident of Bristol County in his 50s, a resident of Hampden County in his 60s, and a resident of Middlesex County in her 60s.  All individuals were hospitalized during their illnesses. There have been no deaths this year from WNV.
 
In 2016, there were 16 human cases of WNV infection identified in Massachusetts. WNV is usually transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. 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 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 mosquitos. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning.
 
Clothing Can Help Reduce Mosquito Bites. Wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks when outdoors to help keep mosquitos away from your skin.
 
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.

October 13th: Statewide Announcements

STATE HEALTH OFFICIALS ANNOUNCE THIRD HUMAN CASE OF WEST NILE VIRUS IN MASSACHUSETTS

Residents urged to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites

BOSTON (October 13, 2017) – The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced the third human case of West Nile virus (WNV) in the state this year. The patient is a resident of Middlesex County in her 60s who was confirmed with WNV by testing completed by the Massachusetts State Public Health Laboratory. The patient was hospitalized during her illness but has returned home.
 
“The unusually warm weather we have had recently has prolonged the mosquito season,” said DPH Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Catherine Brown. “Risk of infection will continue until we have a hard freeze and is greatest during warm and humid days. That means it continues to be important for people to take steps to avoid mosquito bites including using repellents, using clothing to reduce exposed skin, and moving indoors when you notice the mosquitoes biting you.”
 
There have been two other cases of WNV infection in people this year: a resident of Bristol County in his 50s and a resident of Hampden County in his 60s.  Both individuals were hospitalized during their illnesses. There have been no deaths this year from WNV.
 
In 2016, there were 16 human cases of WNV infection identified in Massachusetts. WNV is usually transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. 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 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 mosquitos. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning.
 
Clothing Can Help Reduce Mosquito Bites. Wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks when outdoors to help keep mosquitos away from your skin.
 
More information, including all WNV and EEE positive results, can be found on the Arbovirus Surveillance Information web page atwww.mass.gov/dph/mosquito or by calling the DPH Epidemiology Program at 617-983-6800.


US Department of Health and Human Services Hurricane Recovery Updates

Updates on the US DHHS programs below:

  1. CMS (Medicaid, Medicare and CHIP) coverage and waivers: our CMS colleagues have provided the attached “Hurricane FAQs” document (updated yesterday), to assist state and local partners in providing information and assistance.
  2. For the Emergency Prescription Assistance Program (EPAP), the main EPAP landing page includes an overview of the program, and updated specific information to assist individuals in and from “EPAP Affected Areas”:

HURRICANE FAQs

September 8th: First Human Case of West Nile Virus

STATE HEALTH OFFICIALS ANNOUNCE FIRST HUMAN CASE OF WEST NILE VIRUS IN MASSACHUSETTS

Residents urged to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites

 

BOSTON – September 8, 2017 - The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced the first human case of West Nile virus (WNV) in the state this year. The patient is a resident of Bristol County in his 50s who was confirmed with WNV by testing completed today by the Massachusetts State Public Health Laboratory. The patient remains hospitalized.

 

DPH is conducting an epidemiological investigation to determine where the individual was most likely exposed to infected mosquitoes. Any change in the assessment of WNV risk areas will depend on the findings of this investigation.

 

“This patient would have been bitten by an infected mosquito in early to mid-August which is the beginning of the peak season for possible West Nile virus human infections,” said DPH State Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Catherine Brown. “There have been so many WNV infected mosquitoes identified this year throughout the Commonwealth that the risk is widespread and ongoing. That means that this year, it is extremely important to take steps to avoid mosquito bites including using repellents, using clothing to reduce exposed skin, dumping standing water, and moving indoors when you noticemosquitoes biting you.”

 

In 2016, there were 16 human cases of WNV infection identified in Massachusetts. WNV is usually transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. 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 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 mosquitos. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning.

 

Clothing Can Help Reduce Mosquito Bites. Wear long-sleeves, long pants, and socks when outdoors to help keep mosquitos away from your skin.

 

Mosquito-Proof Your Home

Drain Standing Water. Mosquitos lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitos 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 mosquitos 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 mosquitos near paddock areas. Horse owners should keep horses in indoor stalls at night to reduce their risk of exposure to mosquitos. 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 diagnosed with 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 found on the Arbovirus Surveillance Information web page at www.mass.gov/dph/mosquito or by calling the DPH Epidemiology Program at617-983-6800.

 

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).

Reference:

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

CHARLES D. BAKER
Governor

KARYN E. POLITO
Lieutenant Governor

MARYLOU SUDDERS
Secretary

MONICA BHAREL, MD, MPH
Commissioner

 

STATE PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALS ANNOUNCE MODERATE RISK FOR WEST NILE VIRUS IN 36 NEW COMMUNITIES
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.

#   #   #

 

 

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.

August 7th News Round-up

West  Nile Virus found in Mosquitos in Lexington

West Nile Virus infected mosquitoes have been found in several 4AB towns. Lexington is the latest and their statement indicates that there have been no reported cases of WNV in humans. 

MDPH WNV Fact Sheet                                                     Wicked Local Article on Lexington


Discipline Highlight: Town of Lexington Public Health

The Town of Lexington Department of Public Health has provided examples of their recent press releases in relation to West Nile Virus (WNV) and Emergency Preparedness. 

The Town of Lexington Department of Public Health headed by Gerard Cody have graciously allowed the MRPC to share these examples of information sharing and public relations documents.