“Don’t freak out, but do take precautions.”
That was the reaction of Bourne Health Agent Terri A. Guarino to a report from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health that West Nile virus was detected in mosquitoes collected in Bourne this week. Ms. Guarino said that detection of mosquitoes infected with the disease is “something that does happen throughout the commonwealth during the summer.”
The department of public health announced the discovery in a press release issued Thursday, August 10. Officials said it is the first time this season that mosquitoes collected in Bourne have tested positive for the disease. The department declined to reveal the exact location of the traps where the mosquitoes were caught.
The department said that crews from Cape Cod Mosquito Control would be out Friday, August 11, checking the area for potential mosquito habitat and applying killing agents where needed.
Ms. Guarino recalled that West Nile virus was detected in mosquitoes found in Falmouth and Barnstable last year. However, the disease has not been detected in Bourne since she started her tenure as the town’s health inspector in December 2013, she said. She said that mosquitoes detected with the disease are common throughout Massachusetts, and people can protect themselves by following some simple steps suggested by the department of public health.
She said that residents should be aware of the hours of the day when mosquitos are most active, typically from dusk to dawn. Head indoors if there is a tremendous amount of insects outside. She also recommended that people wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks when outdoors. The use of insect repellent is also recommended, she said.
Ms. Guarino said that residents can also take steps to mosquito-proof their home. The department recommends draining anything containing standing water. That is where mosquitos lay their eggs. This includes gutters and downspouts. Unused flowerpots and wading pools should be emptied, and the water in birdbaths should be changed frequently. Home owners are also advised to install or repair window screens to keep mosquitos from getting inside.
At its website, the US Centers for Disease Control stated that West Nile virus is most commonly transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. Cases of the disease occur throughout mosquito season, which starts in summer and continues through fall. The disease has been reported throughout the continental United States, the CDC reported.
There are no vaccines to prevent or medications to treat West Nile virus. The CDC said that about One in Five people develop a fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Most people with that level of the disease recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months, the CDC said.
The CDC said that about one in 150 infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness affecting the central nervous system, such as encephalitis or meningitis. Symptoms of severe illness include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis.
Severe illness can occur in people of any age. However, people over age 60 are at greater risk. People with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and people who have received organ transplants, are also at greater risk, the CDC said.
Ms. Guarino said that the steps suggested by the CDC and the department of public health are good ones to follow throughout the year, not just during mosquito season. She reiterated, however, that there is no reason for residents to be alarmed at the discovery of the disease in town.