The number of towns in New Hampshire at risk for West Nile virus is growing. Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services elevated Manchester’s level of risk for West Nile to high, automatically elevating the surrounding towns to medium risk.
Manchester discovered the first positive batch of West Nile virus mosquitoes in late July. Since then, it has identified five more batches of mosquitoes with the virus. The city is spraying its public parks and school athletic fields this week.
Town mosquito testing and reporting is voluntary, which means that DHHS maps showing clusters of West Nile virus give only a partial picture of its prevelance.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan says that since the early 2000's, towns in southern New Hampshire have routinely identified West Nile virus. But Chan says the high density in Manchester should make residents and visitors of the Granite State vigilant.
"There is some concern that we could have a more active mosquito-born disease season, so people outside in New Hampshire in general should take steps to prevent mosquito bites," he said.
DHHS provides a list of best practices on its website.
So far, there are no reported human cases of the virus in New Hampshire. The virus can be serious, but most people who get it have mild or no symptoms.