MIDDLEBORO, Mass. (WPRI) ─ The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has raised the risk level for eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) in two communities after more mosquito samples tested positive for the virus.
The health department said Wednesday that EEE risk levels in both Carver and Middleboro have been raised from from moderate to high, and that so far this year, 16 mosquito samples have tested positive.
Fact Sheet: Signs & Symptoms of Mosquito-Borne Diseases »
“The mosquito surveillance results indicate that the virus activity has increased in one area in southeastern Massachusetts,” Public Health Commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel said. “We want people to be aware that the EEE virus is present in mosquitoes in the area and are encouraging residents to take steps to avoid mosquito bites.”
The state recorded its first EEE-positive mosquito sample of the season in early July. The risk levels in Orange, Athol, Wendell and New Salem were raised to moderate.
“We always take EEE very seriously,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Catherine Brown said. “It is important for residents to know that in communities at high risk for EEE, we encourage use of mosquito repellent and scheduling outdoor events to avoid the hours between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes most likely to spread EEE are most active.”
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.