Health officials urge caution after human West Nile cases found - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Health officials urge caution after human West Nile cases found in CT

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WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -

The first two human cases of West Nile Virus have been identified in Connecticut. 

In Massachusetts, Cape Cod is reporting an unusually high number of mosquitoes testing positive for the disease.

No human cases reported in Massachusetts yet, but doctors said that August is the time when the virus traditionally starts to spread more quickly.   

Officials are urging people to take precautions. 

The first two human cases of West Nile Virus have been identified in neighboring Connecticut, according to Connecticut's Department of Public Health - are residents in Fairfield and Newington. 

The patients are between 60 and 79 years old and are said to be recovering.  

"There's no treatment for West Nile Virus, so it's basically supportive care, so prevention is important," said Hassan Borhot, NP with AFC Urgent Care in West Springfield.

So far, no human cases of the virus are reported in Massachusetts. but the Department of Public Health said that it's likely - just a matter of time.  

Borhot told Western Mass News that most who become infected won't even know it. 

"The reality is the vast majority of people, 8 out of 10 people, will have no symptoms at all," Borhot added.

Those most at-risk include the elderly, the very young, and those who are immune-compromised.  

In the rare cases of a human infection, the Department of Public Health said that symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands. 

People may also develop a skin rash on the chest, stomach, and back. 

Some patients can develop severe illness, including encephalitis or meningitis

Officials said to avoid being outside at dawn or dusk and insect repellant with DEET is best.

"With children, you never want to spray directly onto their skin or on their oral mucosa, their mouths, their eyes.  You never want to spray directly onto those areas.  Applying on their clothing is normally sufficient," Borhot said.

Last year, there were six human cases of West Nile Virus infection in Massachusetts.  The first was reported in September.  

The Department of Public Health said that DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age and should be used in concentrations of 30-percent or less on older children.  They also said that oil of lemon Eucalyptus works well.  

Another repellant called permethrin sprayed on clothing is also recommended.

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