West Nile virus detected in Marlborough

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By Dakota Antelman, Managing Editor

Mosquitos identified as carriers of the West Nile virus were detected among specimens caught in Marlborough late last month.

MARLBOROUGH – Crews sprayed for mosquitos on Sept. 22 after experts identified cases of West Nile virus in specimens caught in Marlborough.

The mosquitos were snared by a trap set by the Central Massachusetts Mosquito Control Program in the northeastern part of Marlborough. 

Board of Health offers advice to community

The Marlborough Board of Health is encouraging residents to avoid mosquito bites by following a number of practices, including using insect repellent, being aware of peak mosquito hours at dusk and dawn and wearing clothes like long sleeves, pants and socks when outside to keep the insects away from the skin.

The city further offered several ways for residents to mosquito-proof their homes, like draining standing water and either installing or repairing screens on windows and doors. 

State marks seven virus cases in humans

The state Department of Public Health (DPH) announced on Sept. 16 that there had been seven cases of West Nile virus in humans in Massachusetts to date this year. There was also one animal case, impacting an alpaca in Middlesex County.

While most West Nile cases are asymptomatic, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) notes that infections can develop into “a serious, sometimes fatal, illness.”

There were 12 West Nile cases in humans in the state in 2020 according to the CDC. One of those cases proved fatal.

The state has averaged just over 10 West Nile cases per year since 1999. There have been particularly bad years, though, as Massachusetts notably saw 33 cases in 2012 and 49 cases in 2019.

Marlborough given ‘moderate’ risk rating

The risk of West Nile virus in Marlborough was “moderate” as of Sept. 23, according to the state’s individual community risk assessments. 

That put Marlborough on a list alongside Grafton, Northborough, Shrewsbury, Southborough, and Westborough, which also carried a moderate risk rating.

Additional reporting by Laura Hayes