BOSTON (WPRI) — After reporting Wednesday that a fourth person had died from eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), Massachusetts health officials retracted that statement on Thursday, saying the death was “improperly reported” by a hospital.
Meanwhile, a woman in her 70s from Hampden County is currently hospitalized after contracting the virus, according to the health department.
She’s the state’s 12th human case of the year so far and the death toll now stands at three.
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The risk level for EEE has been elevated to high for Agawam, East Longmeadow, Longmeadow, Southwick, Springfield, West Springfield and Westfield, bringing the number of high-risk communities to 53. Thirty-five cities and towns are considered critical risk and another 121 are listed as moderate risk. EEE risk map »
The EEE virus has been detected in 422 mosquito samples from Massachusetts this season while 83 have tested positive for West Nile virus, officials said.
Even though mosquito populations are on the decline, officials urge residents to continue taking precautions against being bitten. They advise staying indoors when possible from dusk until dawn, wearing long pants and long sleeves, and using bug spray containing DEET.
The threat of mosquito-borne illnesses typically lasts until the first hard frost, which usually arrives in mid- to late October in Southern New England.