Family speaks about impact of living with EEE virus


BOSTON, Mass. (WPRI) — The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) confirmed the first human case of Eastern Equine Encephatlitis (EEE) since 2013.

According to the DPH, a man over the age of 60, from Plymouth County, contracted the virus infection.

It was not disclosed what town the man resides from.

“We will continue to monitor this situation and the impacted communities,” said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH.

A Framingham woman who said her daughter caught the EEE virus 30 years ago when she was just six years old, explained the daily challenges that come with the virus.

“It just changes everything,” said Jean Becker, mother of Jackie who contracted EEE 30 years ago. “She has extra tone in her right side. What happens with this is her fine motor skills. She can’t draw or write. For her, the effects are huge – it’s a brain injury, she can’t tie her shoes, she can’t brush her teeth, she can’t brush her hair. I have to make sure the door in her bedroom is locked on the outside because you don’t want her walking out and falling down the stairs.”

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has reached out to MDAR to perform aerial spraying and to educate residents and visitors about the serious risks.

“I don’t want to see it happen to anyone else. I don’t want to see it happen to another child,” said Becker.

Avoid Mosquito Bites

Apply Insect Repellent when Outdoors. Use a repellent with an EPA-registered ingredient (DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-methane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] or IR3535) according to the instructions on the product label. DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age and should be used in concentrations of 30% or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age.

Be Aware of Peak Mosquito Hours. The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning in areas of high risk.

Clothing Can Help Reduce Mosquito Bites. Wearing long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.

Mosquito-Proof Your Home

Drain Standing Water. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by either draining or discarding items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty any unused flowerpots and wading pools, and change the water in birdbaths frequently.

Install or Repair Screens. Keep mosquitoes outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all of your windows and doors.

Protect Your Animals

Animal owners should reduce potential mosquito breeding sites on their property by eliminating standing water from containers such as buckets, tires, and wading pools – especially after heavy rains. Water troughs provide excellent mosquito breeding habitats and should be flushed out at least once a week during the summer months to reduce mosquitoes near paddock areas. Horse owners should keep horses in indoor stalls at night to reduce their risk of exposure to mosquitoes. Owners should also speak with their veterinarian about mosquito repellents approved for use in animals and vaccinations to prevent WNV and EEE.

If an animal is suspected of having WNV or EEE, owners are required to report to DAR, Division of Animal Health by calling 617-626-1795 and to the Department of Public Health (DPH) by calling 617-983-6800.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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