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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Medford man diagnosed with West Nile

By Stephen Smith, Globe Staff

A 49-year-old Medford man is hospitalized with West Nile virus, the third person to contract the mosquito-borne illness this year in Massachusetts, state public health authorities reported today.

The man, who was not identified because of patient confidentiality laws, became ill at the end of September.

So far, more than 2,500 cases of West Nile have been confirmed this year in the United States, with most of the infections contracted west of the Mississippi River. In the most severe cases, West Nile virus can cause a high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, and paralysis. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one of every 150 people infected with West Nile develops severe symptoms.

Separately, New Hampshire health authorities announced today that they have detected fresh evidence that another disease spread by mosquitoes, Eastern equine encephalitis, is still circulating. Infected mosquitoes were found in four towns, Brentwood, Fremont, Kingston, and Newton.

To avoid contact with infected mosquitoes, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health recommends limiting outdoor activities from dusk to dawn, peak biting times for mosquitoes. Otherwise, wear as much clothing as comfortable and apply insect repellent such as DEET, permethrin, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.

DEET should not be used on infants under the age of 2 months and should be used in concentrations of 30 percent or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under 3 years old.

Posted by Karen Weintraub at 04:14 PM
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