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August 6, 2013

West Nile virus found in Congress St. area, not as previously reported

Over the weekend, the mayor’s office received word from the state Department of Public Health that the mosquito sample that tested positive for West Nile virus in Amesbury was actually found off Congress Street near the Salisbury border, contrary to previous reports that the virus had been detected in the northwest part of town.

In response to the virus’ emergence, the city has conducted targeted spraying in the affected area, which reportedly includes Market Street down to Clinton Street, Congress Street down to Madison Street, then up Monroe Street into Salisbury, with Fern Avenue also included.

Residents who don’t live within the affected area but want their home sprayed anyway can contact the Northeast Massachusetts Mosquito Control and Wetlands Management District at 978-463-6630 to schedule an appointment free of charge.

West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause illnesses ranging from a mild fever to more serious diseases like meningitis. The disease is typically spread to people through the bite of an infected mosquito, and the virus has become increasingly common in Massachusetts in recent years.

This year alone, the virus has already been detected in Merrimac, Newbury and Rowley, along with more than 30 other communities around the state. Given the prevalence of West Nile virus across the state, the DPH has said that there is evidence the virus is now established in the United States and residents should expect to see some West Nile virus activity each year.

Last week, DPH spokesperson Anne Roach said residents can protect themselves from the virus by applying bug spray, wearing long-sleeved clothing and being aware of peak mosquito hours (typically dusk until dawn). Residents should also drain any standing water where the insects might lay their eggs and install or repair screens to keep them out of the house entirely.

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