Friday, October 6, 2006
Billerica woman tests positive for West Nile Virus
A 55-year-old woman tested positive for West Nile Virus last week in Billerica, Carlisle's neighbor on its northeast border. In response to the case, the Billerica Board of Health is working with the Central Massachusetts Mosquito Project to increase surveillance of the virus and to spray targeted areas in the town that contain large numbers of mosquitoes. This is the first reported case of a Billerica resident being infected by a mosquito-borne illness, according to Board of Health Director Richard Berube. However, a horse and three birds tested positive for the disease there in 2003 and 2005, respectively.
Carlisle Board of Health (BOH) Chair Martha Bedrosian said that the BOH is aware of the case in Billerica, but since there are no reported cases in Carlisle and the end of the mosquito season is near, the board has found that no action is currently needed. Mosquito activity begins to decrease with cooler weather and the first hard frost, but there is still some risk of contracting West Nile Virus as late as November.
According to a memo from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Public Health, there have been three human cases of the virus in Massachusetts this year in Arlington, Webster and Billerica. All were infected between August 20 and September 15, two requiring hospitalization.
With frost expected soon, the state Department of Public Health reported that mosquito testing is winding down and will end by October 13, and dead bird collection and testing has ended for the year.
In the meantime, Carlisle residents are encouraged to follow recommendations from the BOH given earlier this summer, including wearing mosquito repellent, limiting outdoor activity from dusk to dawn, and draining standing water (where mosquitoes can lay eggs) that tends to collect in flower pots, tires, birdbaths and rain gutters.
© 2006 The