NORTH ADAMS -- Mosquitoes found in the city have tested positive for West Nile Virus, according to state and local officials.
Christopher Horton, superintendent of the Berkshire County Mosquito Control Project, said Friday that two pools of mosquitoes collected in the areas of South State Street and Route 8A on Aug. 10 tested positive for the virus on Thursday.
"For a pool to test positive, there would have to be at least one mosquito with the virus in the pool," he said.
He said the mosquito control project will continue to trap and test mosquitoes in the city over the coming weeks to determine the range of the virus.
In the meantime, the city's Health Department is advising residents to take precautions to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes. Those precautions include being aware that the peak biting time for many mosquitoes is at dusk and dawn, and rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during those times, according to a news release from the city.
Other ways to avoid mosquito bites are to wear long-sleeved shirts, pants and socks while outdoors, and to apply insect repellent, the news release stated.
The news release also provides suggestions on ways residents may want to keep mosquitoes from their homes. Suggestions include draining standing water and installing or repairing screens.
Mayor Richard Alcombright said aside from issuing the alert, the city doesn't know at this time what its
City Public Health Director Manuel Serrano will be back Tuesday, and at that time they'll discuss a plan of action with state officials, he said.
"From what I do know, I don't think we're in a position where we'll need to spray," he said. "Beyond that, I know we'll have the health department ready for phone calls."
Kevin Cranstone, director of the Bureau of Infectious Diseases for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, said a large number of people who contract West Nile Virus don't even know they have it, but in its most serious form, it can cause encephalitis.
"There is a small percentage of the population in which the serious illness occurs. Older individuals tend to have less of an immune response to the virus, and therefore the risk of complications goes up as people get into their 60s and 70s," he said.
Still, a perfectly healthy adult could contract West Nile Virus and become seriously ill, he said.
According to statistics posted on the state DPH website, 106 mosquito pools have tested positive for West Nile Virus since Jan. 1, and one person and one animal have each tested positive for the virus. No deaths from the virus have been reported in the state so far this year. Between 2000 and 2010, six people in Massa chusetts died from West Nile Virus, according to a fact sheet from DPH.