By Ellen Oliver
Last week, mosquitoes with the West Nile Virus were discovered in surveillance traps set in Boxborough and Maynard. Central Mass Mosquito Control Project Executive Director Tim Deschamps confirmed the CMMCP captured a Culex mosquito with the West Nile Virus in Boxborough in the Meadow Lane area.
Deschamps explained that although the area in Boxborough where the mosquito was found is near the Stow border, there is a large expanse of wooded areas along the border and the characteristics of the type of mosquito that was infected made the risk to Stow very low. “The Culex mosquito is not an aggressive biter,” explained Deschamps. “They aren’t strong fliers either, but are seen as amplifiers, which means they will transfer the virus to birds.”
The CMMCP recommended to the Boxborough Board of Health that the area be sprayed and that was scheduled to be carried out earlier this week. Deschamps explained that the pesticide kills the mosquitoes that come into contact with the spray, but does not have residual ability. So although the Boxborough neighborhood where the mosquito was trapped is on the Stow line, Deschamps said there was no reason to spray in Stow at this time.
“Of course, mosquitoes don’t know borders,” said Deschamps, so it is best to take precautions wherever you live in Massachusetts. “First be aware that West Nile Virus is in your environment, which is consistent across the state.” Deschamps said that the CMMCP found the West Nile Virus in four other communities the same week as the infected mosquito was trapped in Boxborough.
Although the mosquitoes were found close to home, Deschamps cautioned awareness over panic. “A mosquito bite is not a reason to panic,” he said. His recommendations for precautions to take echoed the list found on the Stow Board of Health website:
• Wear mosquito repellent when outdoors during peak mosquito hours (from
dusk to dawn)
• Weather permitting, wear
long sleeves and long pants
when outdoors during
peak mosquito hours (from
dusk to dawn)
• Use mosquito netting on
baby carriages and playpens
• Repair window and door
screens in your home
• Dump standing water twice
• Arrange neighborhood
cleanups to get rid of
mosquito breeding sites
Stow and Boxborough are under the jurisdiction of the CMMCP, while Maynard is tracked by the East Middlesex Mosquito Control Project. David Henley, Superintendent of the EMMCP, confirmed the discovery of a mosquito with West Nile Virus in Maynard and said it was the same type of mosquito, Culex, found in Boxborough. The EMMCP also found mosquitoes with the West Nile virus in nine other towns during the same week.
Henley described the physical effects to watch for if you think you may have contracted the virus from a mosquito bite. “With West Nile Virus most people don’t feel anything,” he said. “The main symptom is a headache, that’s very specific to West Nile, and sometimes a fever. If you get a strong headache and fever in summer, you should check with your doctor.”
Henley said the portion of the population most people want to protect is the most resilient when it comes to West Nile Virus. “It seems to hit middle-aged and seniors the most. Kids seem to do well and don’t get it as much,” he said.
If you are concerned about mosquito control in your community and on your property, Deschamps said Stow residents should call the CMMCP at (508) 393-3055 or visit their website at http://www.cmmcp.org/. Residents can arrange a spray or wetlands assessment of their property.