State finds mosquitoes with West Nile virus in Chicopee, Holyoke, Northampton

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CHICOPEE – City officials are passing on word that the state has found a sample of West Nile virus in Chicopee, and so precautions regarding mosquitoes are being advised.

“They alerted us today,” said Nathan Moreau, a spokesman for Mayor Richard J. Kos.

According to the state Health and Human Services Department, the Chicopee sample that tested positive for West Nile was collected July 25, the same day as  positive samples were collected in Holyoke and Northampton.

Earlier this month there were positive samples collected in Springfield, West Springfield, Amherst, Northampton and Belchertown and Ware, according to a state Health and Human Services website with information on mosquitoes.

Despite finding these samples, most of the state is ranked at this time as having a low risk for contracting West Nile virus. Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties are considered at low risk. The risk is ranked as moderate in sections of northern and central Berkshire County, parts of eastern Worcester County and Greater Boston.

West Nile virus is a mosquito-carried disease that can cause illness ranging from a mild fever to more serious disease like encephalitis or meningitis. It was first identified in the United States in 1999, according to a Massachusetts health fact sheet.

Last year, the state found more samples than in previous years in Worcester County and the Pioneer Valley.

City and state health officials are warning people to take commonsense precautions to avid mosquito bites as a way of protecting themselves and loved one from the virus and advising that the hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes.

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