First case of West Nile virus confirmed in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced on August 26 the first case of West Nile virus in Massachusetts this year.

The confirmed case comes from a man in his 70's from Plymouth County who was hospitalized in late August. The man is recovering and the DPH is conducting an investigation to find out where the man was exposed to the infected mosquitoes. In 2012, there were 33 confirmed cases of WNV in Massachusetts.

"We're still in our peak season for possible human infection with West Nile virus," DPH State Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Catherine Brown said. "Residents need to continue to take steps to protect themselves against mosquito bites: use insect repellant, cover up, and avoid outdoor activities at dusk and after nightfall when mosquitoes are at their most active."

WNV can infect anyone, but people over the age of 50 are at a higher risk for contracting the disease. WNV is transmitted to humans by the bites of infected mosquitoes. Most people who are infected by WNV show no symptoms, but when symptoms are present, they include fever and flu-like illness, which can progress to a more serious illness.

The DPH is asking that all people be careful and protect themselves from mosquito bites. Steps that can be taken include applying insect repellent, being aware of peak mosquito hours and wearing long-sleeves and pants.