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First case of West Nile virus in Hub

Public health officials urge Boston residents to take precautions against mosquito bites

Mayor Press Office

The Boston PublicHealth Commission (BPHC) last week announced that the first case of West Nile Virus has been confirmed in a Boston resident this year. The patient, in her 50s, was hospitalized and has since been discharged home. Although mosquito pools throughout the City have tested positive for West Nile Virus, it is not known whether this patient acquired the infection in Boston. The investigation is ongoing.

This is Boston’s first confirmed human case of West Nile Virus this year, and the third confirmed in Massachusetts. On Tuesday, August 21, 2018, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health raised the risk level for West Nile Virus from low to moderate throughout the State. In 2017, there were no human cases of West Nile Virus infection diagnosed in Boston residents.

West Nile Virus is most commonly transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito, and poses greater health risks to the elderly and those with pre-existing medical problems. Though temperatures are beginning to drop, West Nile Virus remains a threat until at least the first hard frost.

There is no vaccine or specific antiviral treatments for West Nile Virus infection. The most effective way to avoid West Nile Virus is to take measures to prevent mosquito bites. Residents who are participating in evening outdoor events should take precautions to minimize the risk of a mosquito bite.The City of Boston, in partnership with the Suffolk County Mosquito Control Project, has placed larvicide in catch basins in the city, a process designed to reduce the adult mosquito population.

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% or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age.

Be aware of peak mosquito hours. The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitos. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning.

Clothing can help reduce mosquito bites. Wear long-sleeves, long pants, and socks when outdoors to help keep mosquitos away from your skin.

Protect your animals

Owners should also speak with their veterinarian about mosquito repellents approved for use in animals and vaccinations to prevent West Nile Virus and Eastern equine encephalitis.

Mosquito-proof your home

Drain standing water. Mosquitoes lay their eggs near standing water. Once a week drain or discard items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty any unused flowerpots and wading pools, and change water in bird baths frequently.

Install or repair screens. Keep mosquitos outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all of your windows and doors. Repair holes in screens to keep mosquitoes outside. Use air conditioning when available.

More information on West Nile Virus is available in multiple languages at or at (617) 534-5611.

Mayor’s Press Office