The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced the first human case of West Nile virus (WNV) in the state this year. The individual is a man in his 50s who was likely exposed to the virus in southwestern Essex County or eastern Middlesex County. The risk of human infection with WNV is considered to be generally low throughout the Commonwealth.
“This is the first time that West Nile virus infection has been identified in a person in Massachusetts this year,” said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH. “Today’s news reminds us of the ongoing need to take precautions against mosquito bites to protect ourselves and our families.”
In 2019, there were five human cases of WNV infection identified in Massachusetts. 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. Most people infected with WNV will have no symptoms. When present, WNV symptoms tend to include fever and flu-like illness. In rare cases, more severe illness can occur.