Massachusetts residents are being urged to take proper precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitos as a second and third human case of West Nile Virus has been reported. This is after the first human case of the year was reported yesterday in an 80-year-old woman who was believed to have been infected in Middlesex County.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health today announced two new human cases of West Nile virus in the state this year. Both individuals are male, one in his 50s and the other in his 70s, and both were exposed to WNV in Middlesex County. Middlesex County is known to be at a moderate risk level for infection by the virus.

Based on the three human cases, recent increases in West Nile Virus findings in mosquitoes, and weather favorable for mosquito activity, the risk level of an additional 38 Massachusetts communities is being raised from low to moderate. Berkshire County is not among them, but that doesn't mean the possibility doesn't exist. Therefore, it would be wise to avoid being bitten if possible.

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According to today's announcement, the communities at moderate risk include: Beverly, Danvers, Lynn, Marblehead, Middleton, Nahant, Peabody, Salem, Saugus, Swampscott, and Wenham in Essex County; Agawam, Chicopee, East Longmeadow, Longmeadow, Springfield, and West Springfield in Hampden County; Bedford, Billerica, Burlington, Carlisle, Lexington, Lincoln, Natick, North Reading, Reading, Sudbury, Wayland, Weston and Wilmington in Middlesex County; Dedham, Needham, and Wellesley in Norfolk County; Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop in Suffolk County; and Grafton and Upton in Worcester County.

These are the second and third human cases of West Nile virus infection in Massachusetts this year and we are seeing significant expansion of virus activity in mosquitoes... Risk from West Nile virus will continue until the first hard frost. As we enjoy the unofficial last weekend of summer and then head back to school and work, it is important for people to remember to continue to take steps to avoid mosquito bites. ~ Acting Public Health Commissioner Margret Cooke


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