1st Mass. human case of WNV of 2013 season reported

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August 26, 2013, 5:34 pm
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(NECN: Josh Brogadir, Pembroke, Mass.) - Massachusetts health officials announced the Commonwealth's first human case of West Nile virus Monday.

Officials say a man in his 70s has been hospitalized with the illness.

The summer may be winding down, but the threat of mosquito-borne illness is still out there largely because it is still relatively early in the season for West Nile Virus.

And since it's in so many places, it's hard to pin down where he was bitten. But that's why the experts say, regardless, you should protect yourself.

"Is this the right decision, do you think? we asked Adam Kibbe, of Pembroke, Mass.

"I certainly do think it is, yeah. You can't be too careful," he said.

The reason Kibbe and his two daughters are standing here instead of at Pop Warner cheerleading practice is about the bugs.

"It ended like an hour or half hour early because of mosquitoes. I'm upset, but I don't want to get bitten," said 9-year-old Avery.

"I just don't want to get bitten and get sick. So I don't really care (that it ends early)," said 12-year-old Skylar.

Mosquitoes are pushing outdoor activities indoors in the evenings in Pembroke.

And now comes the first human case of West Nile virus in the Commonwealth, an active golfer in his 70s from Plymouth County who is in the hospital but is expected to make a complete recovery.

Unlike Eastern equine encephalitis, this mosquito-borne illness is not typically fatal, but it can be in rare cases and it's much more widespread.

"There is some risk everywhere. So the fact that we'll be able to say, well he was exposed in one of these four towns doesn't mean that there's no risk for West Nile Virus elsewhere," said Dr. Catherine Brown, Mass Public Health State veterinarian.

Seventy-eight of 351 towns in the Commonwealth have already had mosquitoes test positive for West Nile, and in 13 of 27 towns in Plymouth County.

By the end of the season, that will no doubt spread.

"Well, I definitely put on bug spray, but I don't know, yeah I guess and take precautions but it's not usually something that you think of," said Josie Morritt.

She is not thinking too much now about wearing long sleeves during the day as she poses for senior pictures at idyllic Herring Run Historical Park in Pembroke.

But as it starts to get dark, she knows the risk.

"But you probably should start worrying about it," Morritt said.

They take WNV and EEE very seriously in Plymouth County, where it has been deadly before.

There is ground spraying overnight in Hanson, Hingham, and Rockland.

Tags: Boston, Josh Brogadir, West Nile Virus, Plymouth County
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