Shrewsbury, Massachusetts – Two recent fatalities, one in Westboro and one in Worcester underscore the severity of the mosquito borne virus problem that’s surrounding those of us in Shrewsbury. The Department of Public Health announced the confirmation of a death in Worcester from West Nile virus, and has elevated the risk status to high in Shrewsbury, and Worcester.

The comes just days after the announcement of a death in Westboro from West Nile virus, just a few miles from Shrewsbury, and that town was also raised to critical risk status. This comes as little surprise to many, as few weeks ago, it was announced that traps set here in Shrewsbury resulted in multiple positive tests for West Nile in our mosquito population, so it’s not a matter of IF we have infected mosquitos here in town.

Spraying has been going on in areas throughout Shrewsbury, MA, with the Shrewsbury High School athletic fields completed yesterday, but it’s critically important that we all do whatever we can to keep ourselves and our kids safe until the first frosts kill off the mosquito population for the year. This means avoiding being outside at all during prime mosquito hours near dusk, eliminating any standing pools of water around your property, and applying a good quality mosquito repellent before venturing out.

This information couldn’t come at a worse time, with so many outdoor sports seasons just ramping up in Shrewsbury, but if we take just a little bit of extra time, it’s definitely possible to keep safe from infection.

Also key is to be alert to the signs and symptoms. For EEE, symptoms typically begin 4-10 days after a bite from an infected mosquito. Systemic infection has an abrupt onset and is characterized by chills, fever, malaise, arthralgia, and myalgia. Approximately 1/3rd of the people inected with EEE die from the disease, usually within a few days after the onset of symptoms.

West Nile Symptoms include fever, headache, tiredness, and body aches, occasionally with a skin rash (on the trunk of the body) and swollen lymph glands. While the illness can be as short as a few days, even healthy people have reported being sick for several weeks.