Mosquito bites are annoying at best, and, at worst, can lead to illnesses like malaria, Zika virus and West Nile virus. New reports show at least six states are detecting mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus — and humans have contracted the disease in four of these places.
Arizona, Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts and New York have found mosquitoes that carry the potentially paralyzing illness, according to a report from Best Life.
West Nile virus has also been detected in Colorado for the first time this season, according to health officials and reporting by Denver ABC 7.
The Colorado health department says mosquitoes are more prevalent this year thanks to hotter weather and more rain.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Arizona, Arkansas, Illinois and Iowa have confirmed cases in humans.
In New York, officials informed residents on July 2 that two groups of mosquitoes tested positive for West Nile virus in Rockland County. No humans have been reported as contracting the disease in New York.
The infected mosquitoes in Rockland County were found and trapped in Orangetown and Clarkstown on the week of June 21.
“This is typically the time of the year we expect to see a rise in West Nile virus activity, and these positive mosquito pools confirm that,”County Health Commissioner Patricia Schnabel Ruppert said in the statement.
On July 1, Massachusetts’s Department of Public Health (DPH) confirmed that a mosquito caught in the state tested positive for West Nile virus. The mosquito was caught on June 29, and no one has been reported as positive for the virus, according to Best Life.
“The [first] infected mosquito of the season is always a signal that it is time to start taking steps to avoid mosquito bites,” said DPH Acting Commissioner Margret Cooke.
Mosquito bites and contracting West Nile virus have a strong correlation with each other.
In 2020, a year when most activities were limited, suspended, or shut down, there were eight documented cases of the West Nile virus in Massachusetts, the DPH reported.
Compared to 2018, there were 49 reported cases of West Nile Virus, which was the state’s most infectious year.
“Most mosquitoes do not test positive for disease-causing viruses. However, a bite from a West Nile virus-infected mosquito can cause serious illness, and in some cases, death,” according to the statement from Rockland County.
People 50 and older have a higher risk of contracting a severe illness. West Nile virus could lead to “neurological diseases, and can also cause a milder flu-like illness, including fever, headache and body aches, nausea, and occasionally a skin rash and swollen lymph glands,” according to Best Life.
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