New Bedford schools take steps to reduce risk of EEE

SE Mass

NEW BEDFORD, M.A. (WPRI) — New Bedford Public Schools joined other Massachusetts communities by canceling outdoor activities because of the high risk-level for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).

There is a heightened awareness of protecting against EEE after a 59-year-old Fairhaven woman recently died after contracting the virus.

Outdoor school-related activities are canceled after 6 p.m. at all of the city’s 25 public schools due to the threat of the potentially deadly virus.

The number of mosquitoes testing positive for EEE is the highest it’s been in decades, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

“Everyone is on board with this,” said Arthur Motta, Public Affairs Manager of the New Bedford Public Schools. “This is too serious not to discount.”

Motta says parents are encouraged to spray their children with mosquito repellent before coming to school.

“Here is a case that we are looking forward to a really hard frost to end this problem,” Motta said.

FACT SHEET: What you need to know about Mosquito-Borne Diseases »

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health says New Bedford is one of nearly 30 communities in the commonwealth that are considered at “critical risk” for the virus.

Rhode Island’s Department of Health says there have been no human cases of EEE in the state so far this year. Massachusetts has had four human cases this year, including one fatality.

“We are in very close contact with all our regional partners to make sure everyone understands the different steps we are taking and what we are seeing with the data and science,” said Joseph Wendelken, spokesperson for the Rhode Island Department of Health.

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