Heavy July Rainfall in Mass. Brings Increase in Mosquitoes

The risk of West Nile virus in Greater Boston was raised to "moderate," public health officials say, with mosquitoes thriving after a particularly rainy month

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A rainy July in Massachusetts has led to an increase in mosquitoes and a heightened concern over the illnesses they can carry.

Out for an evening walk in Bedford, Amy Boutiette had on her mosquito repellent ankle bands.

"They seem to be helping a little bit," she said. "But it's been a really rough year, and I'm not going out as much as I would like to."

All the rainfall has led to very high numbers of mosquitoes being found in surveillance traps, according to public health officials.

"I get bitten no matter what," said Tracy Hughes of Chelmsford. "Noon, morning, night, they love me."

So far this year, mosquito samples have tested positive for West Nile virus in several communities.

"At home, they're brutal," said Chuck Hill of Billerica. "They're driving me out of the backyard."

There have been no human cases in Massachusetts this season, but the state has raised the risk level for West Nile in the Greater Boston area to "moderate."

"When there's a lot of rain, there's lots of mosquito habitat," said Professor Stephen Rich, who studies diseases transmitted by mosquitoes.

"I think it's important to know there are concerns about them," said Rich. "But there are personal protections you can take, and the risk of severe illness is still relatively small."

This week, spraying is scheduled to take place in several communities, including parts of Burlington, Framingham and East Boston, typically between sunset and 11:30 p.m.

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