Massachusetts reports third human EEE cases of 2020
BOSTON, M.A. (WCVB) – A third Massachusetts resident has been infected with the Eastern equine encephalitis virus this year, according to the state’s Department of Public Health.
A Plymouth County man in his 90s is the latest person to test positive for EEE.
As a result, the DPH has raised the EEE risk level in Halifax from “high” to “critical.” The risk levels in East Bridgewater and Hanson have also been raised to high. All three communities are in Plymouth County.
Across the state, there are now four Massachusetts communities at critical risk of EEE: Carver, Halifax, Middleborough and Wilbraham. Three of the four communities — Carver, Halifax and Middleborough — are in Plymouth County.
Nine Massachusetts communities are at high risk of the virus, while 18 are at “moderate” risk.
The first human EEE case of 2020 was reported Aug. 3 in a Middleborough boy under the age of 18, while the second human case was reported Aug. 15 in a woman in her 60s who was exposed to the virus in Hampden County.
Eastern equine encephalitis is a rare but potentially fatal disease that can affect people of all ages. There have already been two other human cases identified this year. In 2019, there were 12 human cases of EEE in Massachusetts with six deaths.
The EEE virus has been found in 64 mosquito samples this year, and over 70% of them in species of mosquitoes capable of spreading the virus to people.
All Massachusetts residents are reminded to use mosquito repellent any time they are outside, and those in high and critical risk communities are advised to schedule their outdoor activity to avoid the dusk to dawn hours to reduce exposure to the mosquitoes most likely to spread EEE.
The DPH said it is continuing to work with the local health departments and the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources to coordinate mosquito surveillance and appropriate public health response activities.