Stock photo close up of a mosquito

Positive tests recorded in 2017, 2018

STURBRIDGE — The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced Wednesday that West Nile virus has been detected in mosquitoes collected locally, including one earlier this month.

Jamie Terry, the interim health agent for the Town of Sturbridge, told The Citizen Chronicle there was a positive result last year and another recorded earlier this month on Hall Road. That sample was drawn on August 7, Terry said.

“At this time the risk level remains at low and has not been raised in Sturbridge as this was the first positive mosquito result in 2018,” Terry said. “Residents are advised to take precautions to prevent from exposure from mosquito bites by utilizing bug spray (with DEET), removing standing water on their property, limiting outdoor activity after dusk and wearing longer clothing. Residents can request spraying on their property if they so wish on the Central Mass Mosquito Control website. Spraying in the area of the positive mosquito pool is already scheduled to take place over the next few nights.”

The health agent later added: “Areas of the Town are sprayed often during the late spring, summer and early fall months. The scheduled spraying to occur over the next few nights is set for the area of the positive mosquito pool. The positive mosquito pool was only found in one trap in Town at this time. Multiple traps are in place and tested in Town. If additional positive results are found over the coming weeks additional actions may be required. Residents in any area of Town can request to have their address added to the treatment list.”

This month’s positive test is not the first to occur in town. According to the Department of Public Health, 5,496 mosquito samples were tested for West Nile virus in 2017,  and 290 samples were positive.  Sturbridge had one West Nile virus positive mosquito sample identified in 2017.

West Nile virus is most commonly transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. The mosquitoes that carry this virus are common throughout the state, and are found in urban as well as more rural areas. While West Nile virus can infect people of all ages, people over the age of 50 are at higher risk for severe infection.

The Department of Public Health advises that by taking a few, common-sense precautions, people can help to protect themselves and their loved ones:

  • Avoid Mosquito Bites
  • Be Aware of Peak Mosquito Hours – The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning. If you are outdoors at any time and notice mosquitoes around you, take steps to avoid being bitten by moving indoors, covering up and/or wearing repellant.
  • Clothing Can Help reduce mosquito bites. Although it may be difficult to do when it’s hot, wearing long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.
  • Apply Insect Repellent when you go outdoors. Use a repellent with DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-methane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] 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% or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age.  Permethrin products are intended for use on items such as clothing, shoes, bed nets and camping gear and should not be applied to skin.
  • Mosquito-Proof Your Home
  • Drain Standing Water — Many mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by either draining or getting rid of items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty any unused flowerpots and wading pools, and change water in birdbaths frequently.
  • Install or Repair Screens — Some mosquitoes like to come indoors. Keep them outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all of your windows and doors.

In a statement posted on the Town’s website Wednesday evening: “While the Sturbridge Health Department continues to work closely with the [Department of Public Health] and other agencies, locally we utilize the Central Mass. Mosquito Control Project to collect samples, monitor results and spray across the community to protect against [West Nile virus] and [Eastern Equine Encephalitis].  If you would like to make a request to have a specific address sprayed please visit the Central Mass. Mosquito Control Project website at: https://www.cmmcp.org/.”

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