The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) has confirmed that West Nile virus has been found in mosquitoes in several towns on Cape Cod. The positive samples were collected in Marstons Mills, Woods Hole, and Falmouth.
West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne illness that can cause a range of symptoms, from mild to severe. In most people, the infection causes no symptoms or only mild symptoms, such as fever, headache, body aches, and fatigue. However, in some people, the virus can cause more serious illness, such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord).
The DPH is urging residents of Cape Cod to take steps to protect themselves from mosquito bites. These steps include:
- Wearing long sleeves and pants when outdoors, especially at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
- Using insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, or IR3535.
- Applying repellent to exposed skin and clothing.
- Avoiding areas where mosquitoes are present, such as swamps and wooded areas.
- Draining standing water around your home, such as in birdbaths, flowerpots, and gutters.
If you think you have been bitten by a mosquito, it is important to see a doctor if you develop any of the following symptoms:
- Body aches
- Stiff neck
- Muscle weakness
Early diagnosis and treatment of West Nile virus can help to prevent serious complications.
The DPH will continue to monitor the situation and will provide updates as necessary. For more information about West Nile virus, please visit the DPH website at www.mass.gov/dph/wnv.
Here are some additional tips to help prevent mosquito bites:
- Keep your yard well-maintained and free of debris.
- Repair any holes in screens on windows and doors.
- Use mosquito nets over cribs and playpens.
- Keep pets indoors at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
By taking these steps, you can help to protect yourself and your family from West Nile virus.