Winthrop health and emergency management officials announced on Friday, that routine testing of mosquitoes caught in Winthrop traps had found mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus (WNV).
As a result, a Code Red alert from the Winthrop Emergency Management department and Board of Health warned residents to take extra precautions when outdoors in the evening and at night and informed residents that the town would make arrangements to spray for mosquitoes, in an effort to limit the risk to residents.
On Tuesday, July 31, Health Agent Eric Moore confirmed that spraying for the pesky germ carriers would take place on either Wednesday, Aug. 1. 2012 (last night) or Thursday, August 2, 2012 (tonight), based on the weather.
“(Spraying) is scheduled for Wednesday night, if the weather cooperates,” explained Moore. “If we have to wait, then we’ll do it Thursday night.”
Moore said he was not told how many mosquitoes had tested positive for WNV, but as an informational and cautionary measure, he has posted information about how to protect yourself from WNV on the town’s website.
Among the information to help you avoid being bitten, Moore recommends using a mosquito repellent, especially during peak mosquito periods, wearing long pants and sleeves during peak periods, using mosquito netting around baby carriages and dumping out standing water, especially near and around your home.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), WNV is a virus that is spread by mosquitoes, with symptoms that can range from mild to severe. It is believed that in order to spread WNV, mosquitoes first bite an infected bird and the bite a human.
The CDC also reports that though many people are bitten by mosquitoes that carry WNV, very few develop a severe case of the disease or even know that they’ve been bitten at all. Risk factors that can lead a more severe reaction include pregnancy, old or young age and conditions that can weaken the immune system such as HIV, organ transplants and recent chemotherapy.
Symptoms of WNV include abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, headache, lack of appetite, muscle aches, nausea, rash, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes and vomiting in minor cases, with most symptoms lasting two or three days.
In severe cases, also known as West Nile encephalitis or meningitis, symptoms can include confusion or change in ability to think, loss of consciousness or coma, muscle weakness, stiff neck and weakness of one arm or leg. Severe forms of the disease can lead to brain damage or even death. Approximately 10 percent of patients with brain inflammation due to WNV do not survive.