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Eastern equine encephalitis threat level raised to ‘high’ in four communities

The Eastern equine encephalitis threat level was raised to “high” Thursday in four Massachusetts communities and to “moderate” in six others after detection of infected mammal-biting mosquitoes in the area, officials said.

The EEE threat is high in Easton, Raynham, Taunton, and West Bridgewater. Residents in high-risk areas are urged to avoid evening outdoor events for the remainder of the mosquito season, said the statement from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Communities with a moderate risk of EEE are Norton, Mansfield, Dighton, Berkley, Sharon, and Stoughton, the statement said.

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There has been one human case of EEE this year, in a Norfolk County woman in her 80s, who died earlier this month. There were seven cases of EEE in 2012, including three deaths.

Symptoms of EEE show up about 3 to 10 days after a person is bit by an infected mosquito and they include high fever, a stiff neck, headache, and lack of energy.

“We are seeing EEE activity in mosquitoes in scattered locations, including several mammal-biting species, so it remains very important for people to take precautions to avoid getting bit,” said Catherine Brown, DPH public health veterinarian.

To avoid mosquito bites, people should use insect repellent, be aware of peak mosquito hours, wear long sleeves and long pants, drain standing water where mosquitoes tend to lay eggs, and install or repair screens, the statement said.

“People need to continue to use insect repellent, cover up exposed skin, and avoid being outdoors at dusk and after nightfall when mosquitoes are at their most active,” Brown said.

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