Health officials announced Friday the second confirmed case of West Nile virus in a Boston resident this year.
The Boston Public Health Commission said the resident is a man in his 50s. The announcement comes after the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s increased the risk level for the virus from moderate to high for communities in the greater Boston area.
The announcement of a second confirmed case brings the total number of reported cases in Massachusetts this year to five. A Boston woman in her 50s developed the virus in August.
Health officials warn that individuals infected with the virus often won’t present symptoms. However, when they are apparent, flu-like symptoms occur such as headaches, swollen lymph nodes and body aches.
"About 80 percent of folks who get bit by an infected mosquito are going to have an asymptomatic infection — meaning they won't have any symptoms at all," said Dr. Jenifer Jaeger with the Boston Health Commission. "In fact, they won't even know they are sick. About 20 percent will have a severe infection that's predominately neurological so meningitis or encephalitis. And a small percentage of those folks, a total of less than one percent, may die from the infection."
The Boston Public Health Commission urges everyone to be vigilant in taking steps to prevent contracting the virus. Long-sleeved shirts and pants are recommended to keep mosquitoes away from skin, and EPA-approved insect repellents have proven to be helpful.
"We take this pretty seriously. We want to make sure people know how to protect themselves," Jaeger said.
Most residents in the Greater Boston area said they have noticed the increase in mosquitoes and are taking the threat seriously.
"I think the education has definitely helped and that people are taking more precautions than they did in the past. So it's been very helpful," said Gina Hahn of Brookline.
Some residents however mosquitoes rarely bother them.
"I'm very lucky. Mosquitoes Never bother me, at all. Ever," Cullene Murphy of Brookline.
In the past two years, there was just one reported human case of West Nile Virus in Boston, according to the Boston Public Health Commission.