The Boston Public Health Commission announced a second confirmed human case of West Nile Virus (WNV) in a Boston resident this year.
The victim was a Dorchester man in his 40s, who was hospitalized and was released. It is unclear at this time where he contracted the infection.
Earlier this month, a woman in her 50s from Beacon Hill was hospitalized with WNV and released. Because the woman traveled prior to becoming ill, it is unclear where she acquired the infection.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health elevated the WNV threat level for Boston and several surrounding communities in August after confirming other human cases of WNV in the region. In Boston, many neighborhoods have had mosquito pools test positive for the virus, including Jamaica Plain, Back Bay and Beacon Hill.
Boston public health officials said simple precautions greatly reduce the risk of exposure to mosquitoes. These steps include using insect repellant when outdoors, especially from dusk to dawn when mosquitoes are more likely to be biting and, when possible, wearing clothing that includes long sleeves and pants. People can prevent mosquitoes from entering their homes by making sure that window and door screens are in good repair.
“Just because fall is in the air doesn’t mean that we can stop worrying about mosquitoes yet,” said Dr. Anita Barry, director of the Infectious Disease Bureau at the Boston Public Health Commission. “Mosquitoes will continue to be an issue until the first hard frost, but fortunately, there are easy steps people can take to avoid getting bitten.”
To help prevent mosquitoes from breeding, BPHC advises limiting places around the home where standing water can collect. People should turn over unused flower pots, buckets, wheelbarrows, and garbage cans; remove leaves and other debris that can clog gutters and trap water; dispose of or cover old tires; and cover swimming pools and kiddie pools when not in use.
In addition, city officials, in conjunction with Suffolk County Mosquito Control, have applied larvicide in catch basins throughout Boston to reduce the adult mosquito population.
Most people infected with WNV are asymptomatic or have mild illness. However, in rare cases, the illness can be more serious.