State officials on Wednesday announced the first human case of West Nile virus in Massachusetts this year.
A man in his 60s from Middlesex Countywas hospitalized because of his illness, the state’s Department of Public Health said in a statement.
Unlike another mosquito-borne illness, Eastern equine encephalitis, the risk of West Nile human infection throughout Massachusetts is considered to be low, the agency said. The state is seeing an active EEE season, officials said. There have been seven human cases of EEE in the state this year, including one Fairhaven woman who died from the illness. The department on Wednesday reduced the EEE risk in Granby, Belchertown, Ludlow, and South Hadley to moderate risk.
Last year, there were 49 human cases of West Nile in the state.
“We have not seen much West Nile virus activity this year,” said Public Health Commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel in a statement. “Still, today’s news is a compelling reminder that we all need to continue to take steps to protect ourselves and our families from mosquito bites.”
West Nile is usually transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito, and the disease can affect people of all ages, although those older than 50 are at higher risk for “severe disease,” health officials said. Most people infected will have no symptoms, but when symptoms are present, they tend to include fever and flu-like illness, according to authorities.