Mosquito-borne Disease Risks

On August 29th, the risk level for West Nile Virus (WNV) in Newton was raised to “Moderate.”  The risk level for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE or “Triple E”) remains as “remote” in Newton and most of its surrounding towns. However the EEE risk level in Weston is “low”.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE or “Triple E”) and West Nile Virus (WNV) are both mosquito-borne diseases that the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) says “can cause illness ranging from a mild fever to more serious disease like encephalitis or meningitis.”

Each summer, the Massachusetts DPH tests mosquitoes to see if they are carrying West Nile Virus (WNV) or Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE or “Triple E”).   DPH posts the test results on a web page that assigns a category (ranging from “Remote” to “Critical”) to the risk posed by each virus in each community in the state.

This link opens the DPH web page with the most recent risk maps and ratings.

In Newton, the risk for EEE hasn’t risen above “Low” in recent years.  However, WNV risk in Newton is more variable, and reached the “High” level by late summer in 2016, 2018, 2020, and 2021. As the risk level increases, the set of recommended prevention steps changes.

With outdoor activity increasing in summer, it’s a good time to review options for reducing our personal risk level so we can enjoy nature relatively care-free. Here are some precautions we can take:

  • Use an EPA-approved repellent when you’re outside. Find the right repellent based on age, activity, and ingredient preference by using this tool from the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Wear long sleeves, long pants and socks to reduce skin exposure outside.
  • Remove standing water around your home at least twice weekly to prevent mosquitoes from breeding there.
  • Learn more about mosquitoes here