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Thursday, July 19, 2012

West Nile Virus Detected in Brookline

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) has confirmed the presence of West Nile Virus in mosquitoes collected in South Brookline near the West Roxbury line. This indicates that the virus may be present in mosquitoes throughout the Town.

The period of highest risk for getting either West Nile Virus or the Eastern Equine Encephalitis (two mosquito-borne viruses that can cause encephalitis or - swelling of the brain) can be from late July through the fall. Mosquitoes get WNV and EEE by biting infected birds, and thus, people and animals can get these diseases by being bitten by the infected mosquitoes.

Most people bitten by mosquitoes carrying WNV will experience mild to no symptoms, and will be able to recover on their own. Persons over 50 years of age have the highest risk of severe WNV disease. People who are bitten by mosquitoes carrying EEE tend to experience more sever symptoms. Severe symptoms of both diseases include:
•    High fever
•    Muscle weakness
•    Headache
•    Disorientation
•    Neck stiffness
•    Paralysis
•    Coma
•    Tremors
•    Convulsions
•    And in rare cases – Death

There is currently no vaccine or medical cure for these illneses. In severe cases, intensive medical therapy such as intravenous (IV) fluids and nutrition, and ventilator support can be administered in hospitals. There is no evidence that a person can get these viruses from handling live or dead infected birds or animals. However, gloves should be worn when handling any dead animals and double plastic bags used to discard them in the trash.

Brookline Takes Action
The Brookline Department of Public Health is involved in active surveillance for mosquito-borne viruses. In June, MDPH has been collecting and testing mosquitoes as they provide a more reliable indication of current WNV activity than do dead birds.

Initiatives to address mosquito-borne viruses this Summer and Fall:

•    Larvicide is being applied to targeted catch basins and some wetland areas to prevent hatching of new mosquitoes
•    Mosquito Traps have been established and Mosquito Pools are being tested for the virus
•    Inspection and enforcement of standing water areas in parks, fields, tires, etc.
•    Spraying to kill adult mosquitoes may be done, only if necessary, and if recommended by State. Every     effort will be made to notify residents of any spraying beforehand.
How can I protect myself?...Avoid Bites!
•    Avoid outdoor activity between dusk and dawn. If you must be outdoors when mosquitoes are active:
             o    Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks
             o    Cover baby carriages or playpens with mosquito netting
             o    Use mosquito repellent
(Repellants containing DEET are most effective – DEET should NOT be used on infants. This year, the CDC recommends products which contain either the chemical Picaridin – found in Cutter Advances, products containing the oil of lemon eucalyptus,. Alternatives to DEET that can be used for a duration of 1 hour are):
                                      •    Citronella
                                      •    Avon Skin-So-Soft Plus IR3535
                                      •    Buzz Away
                                      •    Neem Oil
                                      •    Soybean Oil

•    Avoid areas that tend to have a lot of mosquitoes – wetlands or swampy areas
•    Fix holes in all window and door screens
•    Repair leaking pipes and outdoor faucets
•    Remove standing or stagnant water– where mosquitoes are likely to breed. Check:
             o    Yard
             o    Flower Pots
             o    Wheelbarrows
             o    Garbage cans
             o    Birdbaths
             o    Swimming pool  covers
             o    Clogged gutters
             o    Old tires
•    Keep your grass cut short and bushes near your house trimmed so mosquitoes can’t hide

For further mosquito-borne virus information or to report stagnant water (more than 10 days) or other complaints:

•    Brookline Department of Public Health
      Report stagnant water or complaints
      (617) 730-2300

•    Town Website
      (617) 730-2295
(For more mosquito-borne virus information with a link to the State Lab, including updated mosquito count and test results)

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