1st Human Case of West Nile Virus This Year in Mass. Confirmed

A man in his 50s was exposed to the mosquito-borne illness in Essex County or Middlesex County, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health

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Massachusetts health officials have confirmed the first human case of West Nile virus in the state this year.

A man in his 50s is believed to have been exposed to the mosquito-borne illness while in southwestern Essex County or eastern Middlesex County, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health said Friday.

"This is the first time that West Nile virus infection has been identified in a person in Massachusetts this year," Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel said in a statement. "Today's news reminds us of the ongoing need to take precautions against mosquito bites to protect ourselves and our families."

There were only five West Nile infections last year, but 2018 saw a record number of the virus' infections in Massachusetts, 49, according to the Department of Public Health. Most, but not all, people infected with it don't show symptoms.

The news comes days after the state's first case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis this season was identified in Middleborough. There were 12 human cases of EEE last year in Massachusetts, as well as six deaths.

"The single best prevention tool continues to be avoiding mosquito bites by using repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants, weather permitting, and avoiding outdoor activity between the hours of dusk and dawn in the highest risk areas," Bharel said in a statement earlier this week.

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