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West Nile Virus Detected in Mendon in August

On August 9, the state's Department of Public Health (DPH) announced that the West Nile Virus (WNV) had been detected in a mosquito sample collected in Mendon.

West Nile Virus is most commonly transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. The virus can infect people of all ages, however those age 50 and older are at a higher risk for severe infection.

According to Missy Kakela-Boisvert, Mendon Board of Health Senior Administrative Assistant, she received a call out of the blue from a state DPH representative informing her about the positive test located in the southwest quadrant of town. "When I asked to be more specific concerning the area, she wouldn't give me any other information," said Kakela-Boisvert. "Why they tested that area, we don't know; they wouldn't say. We don't know if they're coming back to test any other areas in town." Information informing residents about the WNV detection was posted on the town's Web site.

As of August 22, it was reported that multiple communities have detected mosquitoes carrying the virus. As a result, the DPH announced it was raising the WNV risk level from low to moderate in every community in the state. Since, then three confirmed cases of the virus have been reported in humans in Middlesex County, Worcester County, and Suffolk County.

In May 2013, Mendon residents voted no to fund the town's participation in the Central Massachusetts Mosquito Control Program (CMMCP). Back then, the cost to join the program annually would have been $38,000. The aim of the program is to help reduce mosquito borne illnesses through larvae control, ditch control, and education. In addition, spraying is also performed at the request of property owners or if a mosquito borne virus is identified. "We have no intentions of bringing back the spraying," confirmed Kakela- Boisvert.

Signs of the West Nile Virus include fever, body aches, skin rash, and swollen lymph nodes. Precautions should be taken including being aware of peak mosquito hours which are from dusk to dawn. They include wearing long sleeves, pants, and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away. And, with the exception of infants, use a repellent with DEET, and try to limit the number of places around the home with standing water.

If residents have questions, they can call the Board of Health at 508-634-2656. "I'll do my best to answer any questions and if I don't know the answers I can contact the state to find out," said Kakela-Boisvert.


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