What’s bugging you this Columbus Day?

If you’re travelling to New England this Columbus Day be prepared for more than the glorious fall leaves.  According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH)  both West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) have been isolated from mosquitoes in the region.

Although most human cases of both viruses are contracted during the summer months, the recent flooding followed by a spell of warm weather means there is still an active disease carrying mosquito population.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe that mosquito bites, particularly in the fall, are anything other than a minor annoyance,” said Dr. Al DeMaria, State Epidemiologist.

However, these mosquito borne illnesses can cause fever, meningitis or encephalitis and may even be fatal. So far this year, three cases of WNV and one case of EEE have been confirmed in the region.

Mosquitoes acquire the viruses by biting an infected bird and then transmit the virus to humans, horses or other birds.  While WNV can affect people of all ages, those over the age of 50 are at the highest risk for severe disease.

To help protect you and your loved ones from illnesses caused by mosquitoes this Columbus day, SRxA’s Word on Health offers the following advice:

Be Aware of Peak Mosquito Hours. The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. Schedule outdoor events to avoid these hours.

  • Clothing Can Help Reduce Mosquito Bites. When outdoors, wear long-sleeves, long pants and socks. Cover the arms and legs of children and don’t forget to use mosquito netting over strollers, cribs and playpens.
  • Apply Insect Repellent. Use a repellent with DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-methane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] or IR3535 according to the instructions on the product label.
Wherever you are, and whatever you’re doing, Word on Health wishes you a happy and safe Columbus Day.