West Nile Virus found in sampling of Clarksburg mosquitoes

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CLARKSBURG — The West Nile Virus has turned up in a sampling of local mosquitoes, town officials have announced.

The testing, conducted by the Berkshire County Mosquito Control Project, comes just weeks after officials announced that a batch of mosquitoes in Pittsfield had also showed a presence of the virus.

Though there have been several positive tests in the Eastern part of the state, but there have been few in Berkshire County, including one in Tyringham last week, according to Berkshire County Mosquito Control Project Superintendent Christopher Horton.

Clarksburg, which already works with the Berkshire County Mosquito Control Project, will continue to use larvicide in an effort to control the mosquito population, according to Cindy Schock, who chairs of the town's Board of Health.

"The fact that it came up positive in Clarksburg is just sort of a snapshot of probably what is going on," Schock said. "It's not an indication of the rate of prevalence; just that it exists."

Though one mosquito with West Nile Virus may not be cause for panic, Horton noted that its existence "means it's gotten to a certain level" and testing will continue at that location.

"If you continue to get positives in the same area you know the prevalence of the virus is increasing," Horton said, adding that state officials will compare the number of positive tests to the total number of samples taken to assess the public's risk of contracting the virus.

The project collects mosquitoes from sites throughout the county and has sent more than 15,000 mosquitoes to state labs for testing this year, according to Horton, resulting in only three positive samples. The highest year on record in the Berkshires is 29 positive tests, he said.

The illnesses caused by West Nile Virus vary from a mild fever to much more serious afflictions, such as meningitis, according to the Department of Public Health, though about 80 percent of those infected will show no symptoms. It is typically spread to humans through the bite of a mosquito.

The chances of contracting West Nile Virus, which is typically most dangerous for those over the age of 50, can be reduced by the use of insect repellent, staying inside during peak mosquito hours near dawn and dusk, and by wearing long clothing, according to the Department of Public Health.

Schock noted that mosquitoes can lay their eggs even small amounts of standing water, like a container of clothespins or a tea cup on the back patio.

"Just random things that you take for granted, I've been flipping over now," she said.

Contact Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376


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