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Brookline Health & Human Services Urges Community To Take Precautions Against West Nile Virus After Risk Level Elevated

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Health Commissioner Dr. Swannie Jett announces that the Town of Brookline has been deemed a moderate risk community for West Nile Virus by state officials, and urges residents to take precautions to prevent mosquito-borne illness.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) announced today that Brookline’s risk level has been elevated to moderate following the detection of increased WNV activity in the Boston area. Although there have been no human cases of WNV reported this year, it is important for residents to be aware and take precautions to prevent mosquito bites.

“Residents should always be taking precautions to protect themselves from mosquito-borne illness,” Dr. Jett said. “There are simple steps everyone can take to prevent mosquito bites, breeding and infestations, and reduce their risk of coming into contact with a mosquito carrying the virus.”

WNV is most commonly transmitted to humans by the bite of a mosquito infected with the virus. In 2019, there were five human cases of WNV in Massachusetts. While the virus can infect people of all ages, people over the age of 50 are at a higher risk for severe infection.

Brookline works to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes by treating all stormwater catch basins in town and wetland areas, and by working with property owners to remove large sources of standing water like abandoned swimming pools.

Additionally, the Town of Brookline recommends the following safety tips:

Mosquito-Proof Your Home:

  • Drain standing water, Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by either draining to discarding items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty and unused flowerpots and wading pools, and change water in birdbaths frequently.
  • Install or repair screens. Keep mosquitoes outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all of your windows and doors.

Avoid Mosquito Bites:

  • Apply insect repellent when outdoors. Use a repellent with DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-methane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] or IR3535 according to the instructions on the product label. DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age and should be used in concentrations of 30 precent or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under 3-years-old.
  • Be aware of peak mosquito hours. The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times fro many mosquitoes. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning.
  • Clothing can help reduce mosquito bites. Wearing long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.

For more information about WNV, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website by visiting here.