West Nile Virus Detected in Mosquito Pools Near Stoneham

The virus has been isolated from three pools on Ravine Road and Swains Pond Avenue in Melrose, according to a Melrose Health Department press statement.

West Nile Virus has been isolated from three mosquito pools in Melrose located on Ravine Road and Swains Pond Avenue, the announced in a press release on Thursday.

The state Department of Public Health reported the finding on Thursday, the Health Department said in the release.

Next week, all catchbasins in Melrose will be treated with a larvacide to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes in those environments.

West Nile Virus detection in Melrose isn't new— and a middle-aged woman became ill with the virus last September, was .

The Health Department said Thursday's announcement should "serve as warning" about the health threat posed by mosquitoes between now and early October.

"Although the chances of acquiring mosquito borne diseases such as WNV or EEE (Eastern equine encephalitis) are remote, residents should be aware that these mosquito-borne viruses could cause fever, meningitis or encephalitis," the release said. "Early symptoms of these diseases include fever, headache, stiff neck and muscle weakness."

Mosquitoes acquire WNV or EEE after biting an infected bird, the release said. Culex mosquitoes that develop in water holding containers are the primary source of WNV, while the mosquitoes that transmit EEE usually originate in wetlands.

The Melrose Health Department recommends the following tips and steps that can be taken to reduce the chance of infection:

  • Mosquito Activity: Be aware that mosquitoes are active in damp shady areas, during cloudy humid days, at dusk, dawn and during the night.
  • Wear Protective Clothing and Repellent: To protect yourself from mosquitoes use mosquito repellent and wear protective clothing.  Use repellents containing DEET, Picaridin or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus and follow the directions on the label. Never use DEET on infants. Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus should not be used on children under three. Although uncomfortable during hot days, long-sleeve shirts and long pants can provide a layer of protection.
  • Cover Children: Cover up the arms and legs of children playing outdoors. Baby carriages and playpens should be covered with mosquito netting.
  • Mend Screens: Fix any holes in screens and screen doors and replace worn weather stripping. 

There are certain actions that residents should take related to WNV:

  • Proof Your Yard: To prevent a yard from becoming a source for Culex mosquitoes, homeowners should make a thorough inspection of their property and remove, empty, cover or treat any water-holding containers. During the summer, mosquito larvae can complete their development in water within a week.
  • Common Breeding Grounds: Containers where mosquitoes commonly lay eggs include neglected swimming pools, water in loose fitting pool covers or tarps, unscreened rain barrels, rimless tires, and plastic toys.
  • Don't Leave Tires Out: Tires should be disposed of properly or stored inside.
  • Don't Let Water Collect in Containers: Rubbish barrels, wheelbarrows and small boats should be covered or stored upside down.
  • Change Out Standing Water: The water in wading pools and birdbaths should be changed weekly.
  • Maintain, Cover Pools: Infrequently used pools should be covered or properly maintained.
  • Rainwater collection barrels should be screened, emptied once a week or treated with products containing Bti.

For more information on WNV or EEE, visit the Massachusetts Department of Public Health website or the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

If you have questions about mosquitoes and want to know how to control them, contact the East Middlesex Mosquito Control Project at 781-899-5730.


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