|Another Mosquito Tests Positive For West Nile Virus In Pittsfield|
|By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff|
03:57PM / Friday, July 20, 2012
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A second positive test of the West Nile Virus has been found in Pittsfield.
The finding bumps the city up from low to moderate risk for humans to acquire the disease, according to guidelines from the Department of Public Health. The Berkshire County Mosquito Control Board will be increasing their population control efforts to keep the virus from spreading. There have been no cases animal or humans getting the virus.
"It's in a different spot so I think this is significant," Christopher Horton, BCMCB Superintendent, said on Friday. "This is pretty early for a positive finding."
Horton said the first finding on June 26 was in North Pittsfield whereas this one was found on July 17 off of West Housatonic Street in West Pittsfield. Additionally, another positive sample was found in Ashley Falls on July 13. Typically the disease is not found until August, Horton said.
A contributing factor to the disease, which is spread between interactions between birds and mosquitos, is the drying up of water supplies. Horton said many of the mosquito breeding grounds have dried up, which forces the animal to occupy the limited water sources with birds.
WNV is usually transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. While WNV can infect people of all ages, people over the age of 50 are at higher risk for severe disease.
The board is treating catch basins in an effort to reduce the number of mosquitos as well as continually trapping and testing in the seven member towns - Pittsfield, Stockbridge, Tyringham, Sheffield, Clarksburg, Hinsdale and Otis.
"Who knows where this is going but it is important that people know it is out there," Horton said. "It doesn't mean it is not in the towns where we're not looking. It was found where we were looking."
This is the third year BMCB has been monitoring mosquitos in the area and the first year that the virus has been detected. For now, the board is keeping an eye on it but reminding residents to protect themselves.
"We can keep pace with it," Horton said. "It is not like a public health concern but it should at least be on people's radar."
• Apply Insect Repellent when Outdoors
DEET products should not be used on infants younger than 2 months and should be used in concentrations of 30 percent or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children younger than 3.
• Be Aware of Peak Mosquito Hours
The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning.
• Drain Standing Water
Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Drain or discard items that hold water, such as flowerpots, gutters, drains and wading pools. Change water in birdbaths frequently.
• Install or Repair Screens.
Keep mosquitoes outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all of your windows and doors.
More information about mosquito-borne disease is available at the state Department of Public Health: to learn more about mosquito control in Pittsfield or report problem areas, contact Chris Horton at Berkshire County Mosquito Control Project at 413-447-9808.