First Evidence of Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus Found in Mass.

In this Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2010 photo, a Cattail mosquito is held up for inspection at the Maine Medical Center Research Institute in Scarborough, Maine. Cattail mosquitos can transmit Eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile virus to humans. (AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach) / OUTTAKe 0910
Cattail mosquitos can transmit Eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile virus to humans. (AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach)
AP

A mosquito sample pool collected in Bridgewater, Mass. has tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis according to Massachusetts Department of Public Health officials. This is the first time this year that EEE has been detected in the state.

State health officials have raised the risk level for the mosquito-borne disease in Bridgewater to moderate. West Bridgewater, Easton, Raynham and Middleborough were already at a moderate risk level based on tests from 2013. Last year when one person contracted EEE in Massachusetts. State health officials said the samples of mosquitos were collected on July 15 in Bridgewater in Plymouth County.

“EEE is an annual occurrence in Massachusetts,” said DPH State Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Catherine Brown in a prepared statement. “These were mammal-biting mosquitoes, and the findings should remind residents of the area to cover up and apply insect repellent when outdoors.”

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There is no treatment for EEE, which is an extremely rare and dangerous disease. Less than 100 cases of EEE have occurred since 1938 in Massachusetts, according to Mass. DPH. Mosquitos spread EEE by biting. The disease can cause death in people of all ages. Health officials also warn residents to take steps to protect their pets, which can also contract EEE.

State health officials recommend the following preventive measures:

- Avoid outdorr activities during dusk and dawn, when mosquitos are most active

- Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and socks outdoors to keep mosquitos off your skin

- Use repellants with DEET, permethrin, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.

- Repair holes in bug screens on windows and doors.

- Look out for, and remove, areas of standing water around your house.

For more information and resources, consult the Mass. DPH website on EEE.