Stories about: West Nile virus

Insect spread illnesses on the rise: how to protect your family

By  Carolyn Moriarty

If you’ve been watching the news recently, you’re probably aware that mosquitos carrying eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) have been found in various areas across the country, including Massachusetts. EEE—and its less-dangerous counterpart, West Nile Virus—are two diseases that are spread to people by the bites of infected mosquitos. Boston Children’s Hospital’s Asim Ahmed, MD, from the Division of Infectious Diseases, recently spoke to NECN about the current West Nile outbreak, which Federal health officials are calling one of the largest in the U.S., with four times the usual number of cases for this time of year.

EEE is considered to be one of the most serious mosquito-borne illnesses in the United States. Inflammation of the brain, or encephalitis, is a frequent and life-threatening complication of EEE that may also lead to permanent neurological damage or coma. West Nile Virus is a much milder infection characterized by flu-like symptoms that generally go away on their own.

There are things that area and state governments are doing to reduce and eliminate mosquito-borne illnesses. For example, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) is constantly monitoring mosquito populations and deciding if and when aerial spraying is necessary.

Here are a few quick and easy things you can do to lessen your child’s (and your) risk of being bitten by a mosquito:

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More bugs and bites? Protect your child from ticks and mosquitoes this season

We’re not the only ones who enjoyed the record-setting mild winter—ticks and mosquitoes have too. While normal winters produce hard freezes that kill off these pests or make them dormant, unseasonably warm temperatures allowed adult mosquitoes and ticks to live through it, creating early arrival and a potential population boom for some types of bugs.

So how can you prepare your family for the early onslaught of ticks and mosquitoes?

“Prevention is key,” says Catherine Lachenauer, MD, director of Infectious Diseases Outpatient Practice at Boston Children’s Hospital. “Avoid areas at the edge of the woods with long grasses. Also, wearing long, light-colored clothing helps keep ticks from getting on the skin and makes it easier to recognize one on your body.”

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