Health & Environment

Tips to Avoid West Nile Virus

by Mary Wright, RN, health educator at  North End Waterfront Health

CDC map of West Nile Virus activity by state (as of July 29, 2014)

West Nile Virus (WNV) has been detected in a mosquito pool in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston. WNV has been detected in Boston every year since 2000 during the summer and fall months (June-November). WNV in people is rare. Most people are at low risk of developing the disease. Those over the age of 50 are at greater risk of developing severe illness.

Most people who get WNV have no symptoms. Those few who develop symptoms will have headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, and body aches. There is no specific treatment for WNV and most people recover on their own.

To protect yourself from WNV, be sure to use insect repellent when outside and limit your time outdoors between dusk and dawn. When you are outdoors, wear protective clothing such as long sleeves, pants, and socks. Check that your window and door screens don’t have holes in them. Items that collect water such as flower pots, birdbaths, and garbage cans should be emptied of water at least once a week.

For more information about WNV, go to the Boston Public Health Commission website at or call them at 617-534-5611.