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Mosquitoes found in Deerfield test positive for West Nile virus



Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 13, 2019

DEERFIELD — The state Department of Public Health has, for the seventh year, detected West Nile virus-positive mosquitoes in Deerfield, and the town is trying to advise people of how to protect themselves from illness.

Regional Public Health Nurse Lisa White recommends preventing mosquito bites by limiting outdoor activities at “high-mosquito times of day” such as dawn and dusk, and wearing repellant with Environmental Protection Agency-registered ingredients such as DEET.

“We want residents to know that mosquitoes are more than pesky insects, that they can carry illnesses,” said White, who works for the Franklin Regional Council of Governments, of which Deerfield is a member town.

Carolyn Shores Ness, who sits on the Deerfield Selectboard, which also serves as the town’s board of health, warned that mosquito-borne illnesses can be worse if you have a compromised immune system. She said 80 percent of people who contract illness will not show symptoms, while 20 percent will show flu-like symptoms. One percent of the people who exhibit flu-like systems will have potentially life-threatening conditions.

Shores Ness is one of the Pioneer Valley Mosquito Control District’s five commissioners, along with Greg Lewis, who is a public health emergency planner by trade. Lewis explained the all-volunteer control district formed in 2017 has set up traps in its eight member communities to collect mosquitoes that are then sent to Jamaica Plain for testing.

White further recommends removing standing water from your property, repairing screens in your household and wearing long sleeves whenever possible to help prevent mosquito bites.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus can cause illness ranging from a mild fever to more serious disease such as encephalitis or meningitis.