West Nile Virus Confirmed in Mosquito Collected in Barnstable

FILE - In this Friday, May 11, 2007 photo, a mosquito is sorted according to species and gender before testing for West Nile Virus at the Dallas County mosquito lab in Dallas. Scientists have been working on mathematical models to predict outbreaks for decades and have long factored in the weather. They have known, for example, that temperature and rainfall affect the breeding of mosquitoes that carry malaria, West Nile virus and other dangerous diseases. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

(AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

HYANNIS – The state Department of Public Health has confirmed that a mosquito collected from a sample in Barnstable has tested positive for the West Nile Virus.

No birds or humans have tested positive so far for the illness. West Nile is most commonly transmitted to a human through a mosquito bite.

Health officials said that while it can infect people of all ages, people over the age of 50 are at higher risk for severe infection.

The Barnstable Public Health Division and the state Department of Health recommend limiting time outdoors at dusk and dawn, the peak periods of mosquito activity, and using mosquito repellent containing DEET to avoid bites.

They also warn parents to take extra care to cover up the legs and arms of children playing outside and that baby carriages or playpens should be covered with mosquito netting.

Thomas McKeon, Director of the Barnstable Public Health Division said there may be good news with the late discovery.

“This is later than normal, usually the first two weeks of August we get a positive mosquito test, here we are at the end of the fourth week of August this year, so if that’s any indication, it may not be as high of concern as in previous years,” said McKeon.

Residents are asked to remove any standing water from around homes that could be used for mosquito breeding as mosquitos will breed in water that lasts for more than four days.

Ceramic pots, trash cans, recycling containers, old tires, wading pools, bird baths and other items that can collect water should be checked to make sure water does not collect or stagnate.

McKeon said there are symptoms to be concerned of if you contract the virus.

“Those that get something more serious, it’s only 1 out of 150 people, it can lead to swelling of the brain, the spinal cord, or the tissues around the brain, they symptoms would be a severe headache, high fever, stiff neck, muscle weakness, tremors or convulsions,” said McKeon.

McKeon added that anyone with those symptoms should see a doctor right away.

The West Nile Virus was first found in mosquitos in Massachusetts in 2000.

Three mosquitos collected in Woods Hole earlier this month also tested positive for West Nile Virus.

Information about West Nile Virus and reports of activity in the state during this summer can be found at www.mass.gov/dph/mosquito.

By MATT PITTA and JUSTIN SAUNDERS, CapeCod.com Newsenter

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