BEVERLY — A batch of mosquitoes collected in Beverly this week has tested positive for West Nile virus.
The discovery was announced today by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. No human or animal cases of the virus have been identified on the North Shore yet this year.
Beverly health officials said they will "consider" targeted spraying for mosquitoes.
"The city of Beverly has worked closely with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Northeast Massachusetts Mosquito Control District throughout this season to reduce the risk of illness spread by mosquitoes," William Burke, Beverly's public health director, wrote in a press release. "Mosquito pools are tested twice weekly from May to September in order to help identify infected mosquitoes. In addition, larvicide treatment of catch basins (where certain mosquitoes lay their eggs) was performed throughout the city."
Spread through mosquitoes, West Nile virus can cause illness ranging from a mild fever to more serious disease such as encephalitis or meningitis, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The majority of people infected with West Nile exhibit no symptoms; a small percentage exhibit flu-like symptoms and less than 1 percent of people infected with West Nile develop severe illness. The elderly are more at risk of developing severe illness.
Beverly is among six Essex county towns where health officials have collected West Nile-positive mosquitoes over the past month; the list also includes Amesbury, Lynn, Merrimac, Newbury and Rowley.
Residents may contact the Beverly Health Department with questions: 978-921-8591.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- Public health officials urge people to use common-sense measures to avoid West Nile and other mosquito-carried illness:
- Avoid going outside at dusk and dawn, which is peak biting times for mosquitoes
- Wear long-sleeved clothing and pants and apply insect repellent when outdoors
- Install or repair screens to keep mosquitoes outdoors
- Drain standing water, such as in gutters or wading pools, which attracts mosquito egg-laying
- For more information on West Nile virus and its prevention, visit www.mass.gov/dph/wnv or call 1-866-627-7968