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West Nile virus detected in mosquitoes in Worcester

REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker/File Photo

For the first time this summer, West Nile virus has been detected in mosquitoes in Massachusetts, state health officials said Thursday. The infected mosquitoes were found in Worcester.

No people or animals have reportedly been infected, and health officials said the state does not face an elevated risk of infection at this time. The samples were collected July 1.

“This is an expected finding at this time of year,” Dr. Al DeMaria, the state health department’s chief disease tracker, said in a statement. “And given the heat and dry conditions we have been experiencing, we are expecting to see more and more West Nile virus activity.”

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The virus is usually transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. Last year, 10 people in Massachusetts were diagnosed with the infection. Those victims over age 50 are at higher risk of complications.

Most people infected with West Nile have no symptoms.

Health officials encourage residents to protect against infection by using insect repellent, covering exposed skin, and avoiding outdoor activities at dusk and after nightfall, when mosquitoes are most active.

They also suggest draining standing water to prevent breeding and repairing window screens to keep mosquitoes out.


Kay Lazar can be reached at kay.lazar@globe.com.