Health officials remind public to keep taking simple precautions against mosquitoes

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has raised the threat level for West Nile Virus to moderate in Boston.  The announcement comes after two consecutive weeks where mosquito pools in the city tested positive for West Nile Virus and after the number of trapped mosquitoes has doubled.  The positive mosquito pools were located in Jamaica Plain and Hyde Park.  State officials also raised the threat level in neighboring Brookline.

The elevated alert level is another reminder to the public to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.  There have yet to be any recorded human cases of mosquito-borne illnesses in Boston this year.

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The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) encourages people to use insect repellant when outdoors, especially from dusk to dawn when mosquitoes are more likely to be biting and, when possible, to wear clothing that includes long sleeves and pants.  People should also mosquito-proof their home by making sure that their window and door screens are in good repair to prevent mosquitoes from getting into the house.

To prevent mosquitoes from breeding, the BPHC advises people to turn over unused flower pots, buckets, wheelbarro

ws, 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 when not in use.

WNV is most commonly transmitted to humans by the bite of a mosquito infected with the virus, but it poses very low risk to most people.  The risk can be further reduced by following simple safety measures.
The Suffolk County Mosquito Control Project has placed larvicide in catch basins and wetlands throughout Boston, a process designed to reduce the mosquito population.  The agency also conducts targeted, truck-mounted aerosol spraying in certain areas of the city for the same purpose.  Spraying was recently conducted in Hyde Park and East Boston.

BPHC offers fact sheets in a variety of languages to help educate people on the risks associated with WNV:

For more information on mosquito-borne illness, call the Boston Public Health Commission at 617-534-5611 or visit www.bphc.org/mbi.

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