BOSTON, Mass. (WPRI) — The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) confirms the first human case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), the first time 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.
“Today’s news is evidence of the significant risk from EEE and we are asking residents to take this risk very seriously,” said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH. “We will continue to monitor this situation and the impacted communities.”
There have been 227 mosquito samples collected this surveillance year that have come back positive for EEE.
Eyewitness News first reported on Friday, August 9th of aerial and ground targeted spraying to deescalate the mosquito threat, across Bristol and Plymouth Counties.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, there are nine communities at ‘critical risk’; Carver, Lakeville, Marion, Middleborough, Rochester, and Wareham in Plymouth County and Acushnet, Freetown, and New Bedford in Bristol County.
Additionally, there are 15-communities across Southeast Massachusetts at high risk for the EEE virus, and 18 -communities at moderate risk.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is contracting with MDAR to perform aerial spraying and to educate residents about the risks.
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.