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Latest Human Case of West Nile Virus in North Salem

A North Salem resident has contracted West Nile Virus. It is the fifth human case in Massachusetts this year.

West Nile Virus confirmed in mosquitoes from Salem.
West Nile Virus confirmed in mosquitoes from Salem.

The latest case of a human contracting West Nile Virus this year is just over in North Salem, where state and local health officials announced on Friday that a resident had contracted the virus.

The Northeast Mosquito Control District stepped up testing of mosquitoes in the North Salem area over this past week when the suspected case was first tentatively diagnosed.

Spraying was also conducted in South Salem earlier this month, and back in Peabody, the South Peabody area was also sprayed this past week after a mosquito sample was identified as positive for WNV.

Health officials say that while WNV can be deadly, it often isn't. Most people who contract the virus experience no symptoms while less than 1 percent of do experience serious illness.

The Salem News reports that the patient in this case is a 70-year-old woman who was hospitalized for three days in intensive care after becoming "very sick," and is now recovering.

In addition to the confirmed case in Salem, there have been four other human WNV cases identified in Massachusetts this year -- two of them have been in Essex County.

"Because no additional mosquitoes with the virus have been found, coupled with the fact that mosquito activity is severely diminished at temperatures below 50, additional spraying in Salem is not being considered at this time," the Salem Board of Health said in a notice. 

Here are some tips health officials: 

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.

Information about WNV and reports of current and historical WNV virus activity in Massachusetts can be found on the MDPH website at http://www.mass.gov/dph/wnv.

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