West Nile Virus (08/30/2023)
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced the first two human cases of West Nile virus (WNV) in state residents this year. The risk of human infection with WNV is moderate in the Greater Boston area (Middlesex, Norfolk, and Suffolk counties), and in parts of Berkshire, Bristol, Hampden, Hampshire, Plymouth, and Worcester counties. There are no additional risk level changes indicated at this time.WNV is usually transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. While WNV can infect people of all ages, people over the age of 50 are at higher risk for severe disease. Most people infected with WNV will have no symptoms. When present, WNV symptoms tend to include fever and flu-like illness. In rare cases, more severe illness can occur.
Avoid Mosquito Bites
Apply Insect Repellent when Outdoors. Use a repellent with an EPA-registered ingredient (DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-Menthane-3,8-diol (PMD)] or IR3535) according to the instructions on the product label. DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age and should be used in concentrations of 30 percent or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age.
Be Aware of Peak Mosquito Hours. The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning in areas of high risk.
Clothing Can Help Reduce Mosquito Bites. Wearing long-sleeves, long pants, and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.
Mosquito-Proof Your Home
Drain Standing Water. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by draining or discarding items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty unused flowerpots and wading pools and change the water in birdbaths frequently.
Install or Repair Screens. Keep mosquitoes outside by having tightly fitting screens on all windows and doors.
Protect Your Animals
Animal owners should reduce potential mosquito breeding sites on their property by eliminating standing water from containers such as buckets, tires, and wading pools – especially after heavy rains. Water troughs provide excellent mosquito breeding habitats and should be flushed out at least once a week during the summer months to reduce mosquitoes near paddock areas. Horse owners should keep horses in indoor stalls at night to reduce their risk of exposure to mosquitoes. Owners should also speak with their veterinarian about mosquito repellents approved for use in animals and vaccinations to prevent WNV and EEE. If an animal is suspected of having WNV or EEE, owners are required to report to the Department of Agricultural Resources, Division of Animal Health by calling 617-626-1795, and to the Department of Public Health by calling 617-983-6800.
As of August 4, 2022 there have been 7,102 confirmed cases in the US - 157 confirmed cases in Massachusetts. Mpox is a viral contagious disease that can present with a rash that progresses through various stages (blisters or vesicle, pimples or pustules, crusted lesions) and is sometime associated with flu-like symptoms. It is spread through close personal contact (often skin to skin) with a person who is infected with mpox (direct contact with rash, scabs or body fluids). Objects and fabrics such as clothing, towels, bed linens and surfaces that have been touched by someone with mpox can also spread the virus. Respiratory secretions of an infected individual can also spread the virus. Transmission often occurs during intimate contact.
An individual who is concerned they may have developed mpox or who have been exposed to an individual infected with mpox should wear a mask, isolate and schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider.
- CDC mpox informational website
- Massachusetts Department of Public Health mpox informational website
- UMass Dartmouth mpox informational website
The University's COVID-19 updates can be found on the COVID-19 informational website.
As a reminder, the best preventative steps for any communicable disease include simple but important measures to practice as part of your daily routine, but especially during flu season and COVID:
- Stay up-to-date on all your covid and flu vaccines.
- Wash your hands for 20 seconds or more with soapy water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Get adequate sleep and eat well-balanced meals to ensure a healthy immune system.
CDC Isolation Guide
Vaping Crisis (09/26/2019)
You might have seen in the news that Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has declared a public health crisis and has banned the sale of all vaping paraphernalia for at least 4 months. This is due to a nationwide outbreak of severe respiratory illnesses and sudden deaths associated with the use of e-cigarette/vaping products (devices, liquids, refill pods and/or cartridges). While some of the patients reported recent use of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or cannabinoid (CBD) containing products, some reported using nicotine products.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is currently investigating the outbreak in order to determine what is causing the illnesses. Until we know more, CDC recommends that you refrain from using e-cigarettes or vaping products. Anyone who uses an e-cigarette or vaping product should not buy these products off the street and should not modify or add any substances to these products that are not intended by the manufacturer.
If you use e-cigarette or vaping products, monitor yourself for symptoms (e.g. cough, shortness of breath, chest pain) and promptly seek medical attention if you have concerns about your health.
Many people who vape have become addicted to nicotine and will need help in quitting. Often people are able to quit through the use of nicotine replacement products such as gum and patches. Massachusetts has initiated a statewide standing order for these products which will allow people to obtain these products as a covered benefit through their insurance without requiring an individual prescription. This means you can go to any pharmacy in Massachusetts and get nicotine replacement products without obtaining a prescription from your health care provider. In addition to nicotine replacement, other medications are available to help a person quit smoking or vaping. Students can make an appointment at Student Health Services for quit smoking/vaping counseling, as well as prescriptions for other medications.
As a reminder, smoking and vaping are prohibited on UMass Dartmouth grounds.