The state repo
The state reported yesterday that West Nile virus was found in a mosquito sample collected from Falmouth on Tuesday, July 13, in the vicinity of Woods Hole Road.
It was the first positive mosquito sample in Falmouth since 2018, according to the Massachusetts Department of Health. As of yesterday, there were no cases of the virus in humans in the state.
The testing site is a cedar swamp off Woods Hole Road. It was selected because it attracts multiple species of mosquitos, Falmouth Health Agent Scott McGann said.
The site, he said, will continue to be monitored, treated and tested.
West Nile virus is most commonly transmitted to humans by mosquito bites. The mosquitoes that carry the virus are common throughout the commonwealth.
While the virus can infect people of all ages, people over the age of 50 are at higher risk for severe infection. Most people with the virus do not develop any symptoms. About one in five who are infected develop a fever with other symptoms like headaches, body aches, vomiting and/or diarrhea. In some cases, it can cause severe illness affecting the central nervous system.
Mr. McGann said precautions against mosquito bites should be taken every year, not just in years with positive cases.
“They can only get a sampling of mosquitos on any given year. Who’s to say there aren’t some mosquitos, out of the inordinate number of them out there, carrying the disease that did not fall into the monitoring traps? he said, noting there are more mosquitoes this year, brought about by the rain.
Simple precautions include:
• Use an effective, Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellent.
• Wear long sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors.
• Limit time outside from dusk to dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
• Mosquito-proof your home by installing or repairing screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes outside.
• Eliminate mosquito-breeding areas by disposing of standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires and birdbaths.
Thousands of samples are taken in the state each year as part of MDPH’s surveillance program. In 2020, 7,156 mosquito statewide samples were tested for the virus and 99 were positive, with Falmouth having no positive samples.