Massachusetts reports first human case of EEE; risk level raised to critical in 2 towns

Massachusetts
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MIDDLEBORO, Mass. (WPRI) ─ Two Massachusetts communities are now considered “critical risk” for eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) after a man recently tested positive for the virus, the Mass. Department of Public Health announced Monday.

The health department said a man under the age of 18 was exposed to EEE in Plymouth County. As a result, the risk level was elevated for the towns of Carver and Middleboro.

Middleboro Town Manager Robert Nunes posted on Facebook Monday afternoon that the person is a town resident. He also said no outdoor activities will be permitted on town property from dusk to dawn.

The health department said the communities of Kingston, Plympton and Rochester are currently at high risk, while Bridgewater, Halifax, Lakeville, Plymouth, Wareham, Raynham and Taunton are considered moderate risk.

“EEE is rare, but it is a serious disease and public health concern, and we remind residents of the need to protect themselves from mosquito bites as EEE activity increases,” Public Health Commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel said.

Fact Sheet: Signs & Symptoms of Mosquito-Borne Diseases »

So far this year, 29 mosquito samples have tested positive for EEE, according to the health department. The first EEE-positive mosquito sample was reported in Orange, which remains at moderate risk, as well as the surrounding communities of Wendell, Athol and New Salem.

The health department said 12 people were diagnosed with EEE statewide in 2019.

Last year’s mosquito season began quietly but quickly erupted in Southern New England, raising EEE risk levels significantly across both Rhode Island and Massachusetts. At least one person died from EEE in Rhode Island and six people died in Massachusetts.

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