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West Nile virus detected in Boston for first time this summer

A municipal biologist examines a mosquito in Salt Lake City in this 2019 file photo. West Nile virus has been detected in South Boston. It's the first time this summer the mosquito-borne illness has been discovered in the city.Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

The West Nile virus was detected in a mosquito pool in South Boston, the first time this summer the mosquito-borne illness has been found in the city, according to the Boston Public Health Commission.

The commission said there are no confirmed cases of West Nile virus in Boston and the “risk of transmission remains low.” Mosquitoes transfer the virus to humans through bites.

Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, executive director of the Public Health Commission, said precautions should be taken to avoid being bitten.

“During this time of the year and into the fall, we encourage residents to protect themselves by using insect repellent and wearing long-sleeve clothing when outside at dusk and dawn for prolonged periods of time,” she said in a statement.


The discovery of the virus in Boston comes after the state Department of Public Health detected West Nile virus in Brookline on July 7 and in Worcester on July 13.

The public health agencies recommend the following strategies to reduce the risk of exposure to mosquitoes.

— Avoid spending extended periods of time outdoors from dusk to dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.

— Wear long clothing and high socks to keep mosquitoes away from your skin.

— Use EPA-approved insect repellents like DEET, oil of lemon, eucalyptus, picaridin, or IR3535.

— Make sure window and door screens fit properly and don’t have any holes.

— Regularly empty and clean bird baths, unused flowerpots, and other vessels containing standing water to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. Flip over unused kiddie pools and dispose of old tires, which are also known to attract mosquitoes for breeding.

— Regularly clean out gutters and remove any debris or blockages.

Most people who are infected with West Nile virus do not experience any signs or symptoms of illness, according to the Public Health Commission.


“In some cases, people will experience a headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, and body aches which can last for a few days or several weeks. In most cases, individuals with mild symptoms recover on their own,” the commission’s website says.

More information on West Nile Virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses is available on BPHC’s website.

John R. Ellement can be reached at Follow him @JREbosglobe.