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West Nile virus seen in Auburn

Two-street area is cited

August 16, 2010
AUBURN — With the discovery of West Nile Virus in town last week, the Board of Health is cautioning parents to keep a watchful eye on their children in order to prevent them from contracting the potentially fatal disease.

"We just have to take precautions," said Board of Health Chairman Raymond Gauthier of the state Department of Public Health discovering the virus in town last week. "Our main goal is to keep the public safe. We figured this was the best response."

On Wednesday, Aug. 11, the DPH announced it had found two samples from different parts of town had tested positive for West Nile, a mosquito-borne virus that can cause serious illness and even be fatal, according to a Thursday, Aug. 12 press release from the Central Massachusetts Mosquito Control Project. Gauthier said the two positives were found in the area of Boyce Street and Pakachoag Hill respectively, both residential neighborhoods. The discovery comes a week after the virus was detected in mosquitoes in Leicester.

The agency detected the virus in Auburn mosquitoes from samples it collected Tuesday, Aug. 3. The CMMCP also plans to place more traps in the two areas to determine if a large problem exists.

As a result of the virus' discovery, the CMMCP planned to spray the area Tuesday, Aug. 17, according to the agency. However, several other steps can be taken to avoid contracting the virus, according to Gauthier.

He urged residents to wear clothing that covers the entire body when they go to sleep, and make sure their children use insect repellant when they play outside.

The CMMCP said homeowners should "mosquito-proof" their homes by eliminating any standing water where mosquitoes can lay eggs. Make sure window screens are tightly installed to avoid letting the bugs in, the agency urged. Also, residents should avoid playing outdoors during peak mosquito hours — from dusk to dawn.

See Wednesday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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