Almost a dozen communities in Boston are now listed at high risk for the West Nile virus after a fourth case of the mosquito-borne virus was discovered, the state health ministry said Monday.
The infected person is a woman in her 50s from Middlesex County who was never taken to the hospital for the disease, health officials said. The other three cases reported on Friday involve a woman in Worcester County in the 1970s, a woman in her sixties from Middlesex County, and a woman in her fifties from Suffolk County.
At least two out of the four patients in Greater Boston are exposed to the virus, health officials said. As a result, state workers have increased the risk from 1
"Several people in the same area have developed the West Nile virus," said Health Commissioner Monica Bharel. "This means that there is an increased risk in this specific area and additional individuals could be infected, and we are particularly worried about people over 50 and those who are immunosuppressed."
Symptoms of West Nile virus include fever and other flu-like illnesses, although most people who become infected with the virus do not develop symptoms. In rare cases, more serious illnesses can occur.
Last year, there were six human cases of West Nile virus in Massachusetts.
On August 21, officials increased the nationwide risk for the West Nile virus from low to moderate. The nationwide risk was only assessed once in 2012 when 33 cases of West Nile were registered in Massachusetts.
Abigail Feldman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.