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West Nile Virus Found In Dracut, Wilmington

Aug 16, 2018 04:14PM ● By Bill Gilman
West Nile Virus, potentially fatal in humans, has been discovered in both Dracut and Wilmington in recent days.

The boards of health in both communities received official notification, this week, from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health that mosquitoes collected locally have tested positive for the virus.

West Nile Virus is most commonly transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. While people of any age can be made sick by WNV, it is folks 50 and over that have the highest risk of becoming critically ill if they are infected. According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, "Less than 1% of people infected with WNV will develop severe illness, including encephalitis or meningitis. The symptoms of severe illness can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle."

According to Mass. DPH stats, between 2000 and 2010, 67 people were reported with WNV infection in Massachusetts. Six of these people died. 

Residents in Merrimack Valley communities, especially Dracut and Wilmington, are being advised to take measures to avoid mosquito bites.

Recommendations from the Mass. DPH include the following:

  • Schedule outdoor events to avoid the hours between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
  • When you are outdoors, wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and socks. This may be difficult to do when the weather is hot, but it will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.
  • Use a repellent with DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), IR3535 (3-[N-butyl-N-acetyl]-aminopropionic acid) or oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-menthane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] 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.
    • Permethrin products are intended for use on items such as clothing, shoes, bed nets and camping gear and should not be applied to skin.
    • More information on choosing and using repellents safely is included in the MDPH Mosquito Repellents fact sheet. If you can’t go online, contact the MDPH at (617) 983-6800 for a hard copy.
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