Students at Concord Academy are noticing a significant increase in mosquitoes around campus. Grace Guo ’25 said, “Mosquitoes swallowed me this summer.” In addition to the number of mosquito bites, people worry about the severity of reactions and their risk of infection from the West Nile Virus.
West Nile virus is the leading cause of mosquito-transmitted disease in the continental United States, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). From a single infected mosquito bite, one can develop fevers and infrequently fatal illnesses. Approximately 20 percent of people affected will experience symptoms, of which 3 percent may face severe conditions that might take weeks or months to fully recover from. Serious symptoms include high fever, vision loss, paralysis, tremors, muscle weakness, and disorientation.
Recently, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has promoted modifying the risk level of the West Nile virus in the town of Concord. Nearby towns such as Lincoln and Bedford have been raised to high-risk areas. Coupled with mosquitos’ recent overwhelming population, this notice substantially increases the concern regarding mosquito bites around the area.
The worst part about West Nile infection is that there are no vaccines or specific medications available for treatment. One can only relieve pain through pain medications, intravenous fluid, and hospitalized nursing care.
To prevent infections and possible allergic reactions, students, parents, and faculty should try to wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants and apply insect repellents when spending long periods outside. The CDC recommends using Environmental Protection Agency registered repellents, with active ingredients such as DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, and 2-undecanone. Indoors, consider repairing or installing window screens and regularly cleaning up containers holding water to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs.
Winter is approaching, and mosquito populations have already begun to reduce. However, for the physical health of you and your loved ones, you should continue taking this issue seriously. After all, simply wearing long sleeves and pants is a minor effort as you need them to keep you warm anyway. Let us protect ourselves and patiently wait for risk levels to decline in and around Concord.