The Massachusetts Department of Public Health today announced that laboratory testing has confirmed the first human case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus infection in the Commonwealth.

According to a media release from the DPH, a male under the age of 18 who was exposed to EEE in Plymouth County. As a result, the risk level in the two communities of Carver and Middleborough in Plymouth County has been raised to critical. In addition, Kingston, Plympton, and Rochester are at high risk. Bridgewater, Halifax, Lakeville, Plymouth, and Wareham in Plymouth County, and Raynham and Taunton in Bristol County are now at moderate risk.

The DPH is working with the local health departments, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, and local Mosquito Control Projects to coordinate surveillance and appropriate public health response activities.

Although the Berkshires is not one of the communities in question, this does serve as a reminder for us here to take the proper precautions when taking part in outdoor activities. The DPH says that all state residents should 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 single best prevention tool continues to be avoiding mosquito bites by using repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants, weather permitting, and avoiding outdoor activity between the hours of dusk and dawn in the highest risk areas. ~ Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH

 

EEE is a rare but potentially fatal disease that can affect people of all ages. In Massachusetts there were 12 human cases of EEE in 2019 with 6 deaths. The virus has been found in 29 mosquito samples this year, including in species of mosquitoes capable of spreading the virus to people. Information about current mosquito activity will continue to be updated regularly and can be found here.

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