West Nile virus discovered in Salem mosquitoes

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Aug. 19—Salem, N.H. — Mosquitoes collected in Salem were the first in the state to test positive for West Nile virus this year, officials announced Thursday.

While the Department of Health and Human Services works with the town to notify residents near the collection site, Salem Health Officer Brian Lockard says precautions should be taken townwide.

Without sharing specifics, Lockard said the infected mosquitos were found in the southern portion of Salem. He said the town does not like folks to know exactly where four traps are set up in order to avoid tampering.

"'Because of how mobile the mosquitoes are, everyone should really be aware," he said.

Despite the discovery, he said there is an established mosquito prevention program in place.

"We start in April and continue through the fall with trapping, testing, and spraying larvicide at wet areas where mosquitoes like to breed," he said.

Residents can help out by eliminating stagnant water on their property, including bird baths, buckets, wheelbarrows, "anything that holds water that's just going to sit there," Lockard said.

He noted that West Nile virus mosquitos like to breed in containers.

Dr. Benjamin Chan, state epidemiologist, said the risk of infection is present throughout the state, and that it's important to take steps to prevent mosquito bites until there is a killing frost.

People are encouraged to wear bug repellant, especially at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.

West Nile virus was first identified in New Hampshire in August of 2000. Symptoms are flu-like, including fever, muscle aches, headaches and fatigue.

Lockard says more information will be available soon on the town's website.

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