Massachusetts warns residents about spread of mosquito-borne illnesses
Massachusetts residents face an increased risk of contracting mosquito-borne diseases such as West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis through the end of this month, the Division of Student Affairs warned in a Sept. 11 email. The University encourages people to take precautions to lessen the chance of being bitten during peak mosquito season, which occurs in August and September.
The risk of being bitten by mosquitoes is highest between dusk and dawn, when the “types of mosquitoes most likely to transmit EEE infection are likely to be out searching for food,” according to the Mass.gov EEE webpage. For the week of Sept. 15, dusk begins at 7 p.m. and dawn at 6 a.m., per the same website.
Those who will be outside during these times should reduce skin exposure by wearing long-sleeved clothing and using insect repellent, the University email advised. Specifically, people should use repellents with either “DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), oil of lemon eucalyptus (p-menthane 3, 8-diol (PMD)) or IR3535.” Various locations on campus, including the Gosman Sports and Convocation Center front desk and the Shapiro Campus Center information desk, will have repellent available for students. Community members should also ensure that window and door screens are intact and should look out for basins of standing water, within which mosquitoes can breed. They should report any issues to Facilities.
According to the Mass.gov’s Arbovirus Daily Update, Waltham is at a low risk for both EEE and WNV, as of Sept. 16. Areas southwest of Waltham are at moderate to critical risk for EEE, and areas southwest of campus have a moderate risk of WNV.
EEE, often called Triple E, is a rare disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes that can cause “inflammation of the brain,” per the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s EEE webpage. Symptoms develop three to 10 days after being bitten and begin with “high fever (103-106 Fahrenheit), stiff neck, and headache,” according to the University’s email, which also urged anyone infected to seek emergency care. About a third of those infected die, although only five to 10 cases are reported annually in the United States, according to the CDC webpage.
Only about 20 percent of people infected with WNV develop symptoms, which include fevers, body aches and vomiting, although in rare cases, serious symptoms can affect the central nervous system, per the CDC WNV webpage.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported the eighth case of EEE this season on Friday, a Sept. 13 CBS Boston article reported. Of the eight cases, one woman has died from EEE. The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources is aerial spraying insecticides in specific areas of affected counties, most recently spraying Hampden and Worcester counties on Monday, per the Mass.gov EEE webpage.