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Mosquito Testing Finds West Nile Virus in Reading

Mosquitoes from Reading have tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV), according to Superintendent of the East Middlesex Mosquito Control Project David Henley. Mosquitoes in nearby Wakefield and Burlington have also tested positive.

Nine vials, each with up to 50 mosquitoes from Reading, were tested recently and only two of those vials tested positive for West Nile. The mosquitoes in the vials were all Culex mosquitoes, the type that carries WNV. According to Henley, that means that at least one of the mosquitoes in the vial had WNV.

“It could have been two or three, but we know that at least one of them was positive,” he said.

Both vials were from the same site, Henley said. He did not disclose the site location. Given that mosquitoes in Wakefield, Burlington and Reading tested positive "tells you that it's in the area," he said. 

“People throughout the town really need to be careful," Henley said.

He suggests that residents check their property for any water holding containers. Anything that can hold water, from a tarp over firewood to a plastic toy, should be dumped out. It takes about one to two weeks to produce Culex mosquitoes, he said. The risk period is from now through September.

He also suggested that residents wear repellent when sitting outdoors at night.

“Be careful about sitting outside at night,” Henley said.

Even if it doesn’t seem like there are a lot of mosquitoes around, there are definitely Culex mosquitoes around, he explained. Culex mosquitoes are not the kind "chasing people down trying to get to their cars." Culex mosquitoes tend to bite people when they are still and they tend to bite at night, according to Henley.

"If you're not moving then that is when a Culex mosquito is more likely to bite you," he said.

According to the Board of Health website, most West Nile Virus Infections are mild. Symptoms occur about three to 14 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito and only about 20 percent of those bitten experience symptoms of mild illness, the website said. Those symptoms, including minor aches and pains and a slight fever, last about three to six days.

According to the website, one out of every 150 infected "may have a neurological disease with symptoms similar to meningitis." 

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