State health officials announced this afternoon that Cambridge, Newton, Watertown and Waltham have been upgraded from low to moderate risk for West Nile Virus.
The announcement comes after multiple mosquitoes infected with the virus were found in those communities, according to a statement from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
"Due to multiple WNV positive mosquitoes and based on similarities in mosquito habitat types, Newton, Cambridge, Watertown, and Waltham are being moved to moderate risk," the statement said.
State officials warn that although the virus can infect everyone, those over the age of 50 are at higher risk for severe infection.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control, one in five people who have contracted West Nile Virus develop a fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash, but can usually be cured. Less than 1 percent of those with the disease will develop a neurological illness; about 10 percent of those cases can be fatal.
Last year, a Brookline woman in her 20s was infected with the virus, but recovered.
A Worcester man in his 60s died from the virus earlier last summer, the first death caused by the virus in Massachusetts since 2005.
Residents can avoid mosquito bites while outdoors by wearing insect repellant and sporting long sleeves from dusk to dawn. Since mosquitoes lay eggs in standing water, officials also advise residents to drain any outside their home, including in gutters, drains, or unused flowerpots and wading pools.
Residents can also keep mosquitoes out of their home by making sure all screens in their doors and window are tight-fitting.
For more information, visit the state's health website, or call the state's public health information line at 1-866-MASS-WNV (1-866-627-7968).
Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org