West Nile risk is low

AMHERST – Town officials say Amherst is in the “low-risk” category for mosquito-borne diseases.

The state Department of Health and Human Services issued a report last week with Amherst, Merrimack, Hollis, Nashua and about two dozen other towns on a list of places that tested positive for West Nile virus.

Amherst Selectmen’s Chairman Dwight Brew said last week that he talked with the town health officer Scott Tenney after the report came out.

“Scott tells me that the NH Department of Health and Human Services still places the town of Amherst within the ‘low-risk’ category for mosquito-borne diseases,” Brew said in an email.

“At the present time, we do not anticipate the need to perform additional testing or treatment for mosquito control. Although the risk in Amherst is considered low, it makes sense for residents to follow the NH DHHS Mosquito-borne Diseases Prevention Guidelines which include eliminating standing water on your property and protecting yourself from mosquito bites.”

People with West Nile show flu-like symptoms, such as fatique and fever, and they usually appear within a week after a person has been bitten by an infected mosquito. A very small percentage of people infected go on to develop more serious central nervous system diseases like meningitis.

Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers said last week that neighboring states have reported cases in humans – one in Maine and four in Massachusetts. Mosquito-borne illnesses are most common in the fall, he said.

Nashua Environmental Health Officer Heidi Peek-Kukulka said the three mosquito batches testing positive for West Nile in the city came from a single location, and she called the risk to humans relatively low.

The state guidelines also include wearing long sleeves and pants at dusk and making sure screen windows and doors are closed.