EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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September 27, 2013

Essex County woman hospitalized with West Nile Virus

BOSTON – The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) has announced the fifth and sixth human cases of West Nile virus in the state this year.

The fifth case involved a woman from Middlesex County in her 50’s, who was never hospitalized. The sixth case is a woman from Essex County in her 70’s who was hospitalized, but has shown significant improvement. The DPH declined to identify them and the communities in which they live.

The epidemiological investigation conducted by DPH indicates that the patients were most likely exposed to infected mosquitoes locally. The areas of potential exposure are already considered to be at moderate risk from West Nile Virus and will remain at that level. Moderate risk areas may have a single animal or human case; multiple cases from an area would indicate that risk is high.

“Even as cooler temperatures begin arriving in the state, the fact is that the threat of mosquito-borne illness will continue until the first hard overnight frost,” said DPH State Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Catherine Brown. “In the meantime, it’s vitally important that we continue taking common-sense precautions against mosquito bites: use insect repellant, cover up, and avoid outdoor activities at dusk and after nightfall when mosquitoes are at their most active.”

Last year, 33 cases of WNV were detected in Massachusetts residents. While WNV can infect people of all ages, people over the age of 50 are at higher risk for severe disease. WNV is usually transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. 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.

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