BOSTON (CBS) — For the second time ever, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health is raising the statewide risk level for West Nile virus from low to moderate. Residents are urged to take precautions against mosquito bites.

To date, there have been no reported human West Nile cases in the state but according to the DOH, most human cases occur in August and September. There were already 162 Mass. communities considered to be at a moderate risk.

“The hot, humid weather in Massachusetts combined with frequent heavy rainfall has provided perfect conditions for mosquito species carrying West Nile Virus to breed,” said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel in a statement.

The DOH provided tips to help residents avoid mosquito bites:

  • Use bug repellent
  • Wear long sleeves and pants
  • Beware of peak mosquito hours (dusk to dawn) and consider rescheduling early morning or evening outdoor events
  • Drain standing water near your home, mosquitoes lay eggs in standing water
  • Install/repair window screens

Don’t forget to protect your animals as well, ask the vet about repellants and vaccinations to prevent WNV and EEE.

While anyone can contract West Nile virus from a mosquito bite, people over 50 are at a higher risk of disease being severe. Most people to do experience any symptoms, but when they do, the sickness appears flu-like. For more information visit the Health Department’s website.

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