Mosquito-borne illness is a disease spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Viruses, such as West Nile Virus (WNV) or Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus (EEEV), have caused serious illness in the Northeastern US. However, the risk of becoming infected with a virus or developing disease after a mosquito bite is low. Mosquitoes infected with (WNV) have been detected in Boston during the summer months every year since 2000 while EEV is seen occasionally. However, only a small number of people have become sick from mosquito-borne illness.
There are many ways you can protect yourself from mosquito-borne illnesses. Though you can get bitten any time of day, mosquitoes are most active between dusk and dawn. You can avoid or limit time spent outdoors during this time. If you are outdoors, use mosquito repellent and wear protective clothing such as long sleeves and pants. The most effective repellants contain DEET, but do not use concentrations of more than 30% on adults and use low concentrations on children. Make sure window and door screen don’t have holes to prevent mosquitoes from getting inside your home. Also, avoid stagnant water and ensure items around your home don’t collect water. These simple precautions can help you reduce your risk of becoming infected with WNV or EEEV.
If you think you or a family member may have mosquito-borne illness, it is important to consult your healthcare provider for proper diagnosis. For more information, please contact Boston Public Health Commission Infectious Disease Bureau at 617-534-5611 or visit www.bphc.org. You can also call or stop by the Roger Sweet Learning Center located in the basement at MGH Charlestown HealthCare Center: 617-724-9642, 73 High St.