The West Nile virus has been detected for the first time this summer in Massachusetts.
A mosquito prepare to feast on human blood. Credit: Courtesy of Griffin Dill

BOSTON — The potentially dangerous West Nile virus has been detected in a mosquito in Massachusetts for the first time this year, state public health officials said.

The presence of the virus, which is usually transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito, was confirmed in a mosquito sample collected in Easton on Monday, according to the Department of Public Health.

There have been no human or animal cases of West Nile confirmed in the state yet this year. Last year there were 11 human cases of West Nile, according to the department.

Most people infected with West Nile do not feel sick, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever and other flu-like symptoms, and about 1 in of 150 infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness, according to the agency.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Catherine Brown said residents can take simple steps to avoid mosquito bites, including using an appropriate insect repellent when outdoors, covering exposed skin, draining standing water where mosquitoes breed, and repairing window screens.