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Massachusetts' First Human Case Of EEE This Year Found In Middleborough

A mosquito is examined in Salt Lake City. (Rick Bowmer/AP)
A mosquito is examined in Salt Lake City. (Rick Bowmer/AP)

Public health officials on Monday confirmed the state's first human case of Eastern equine encephalitis, or EEE, this year was diagnosed in Plymouth County.

The Department of Public Health says the individual who contracted the mosquito-borne illness is a boy younger than 18 years old. There's no word on his condition.

Middleborough's town manager says the exposure occurred in that town.

In response to the diagnosis, state officials have raised the risk level for EEE exposure to "critical" in Middleborough and Carver. No outdoor activities are permitted on town-owned property in Middleborough from dusk to dawn, and the town manager advises all residents to avoid outdoor activities in the evening until further notice. Kingston, Plympton and Rochester are at high risk, while Bridgewater, Halifax, Lakeville, Plymouth, Wareham, Raynham and Taunton are at moderate risk.

You could view your town or city's risk of EEE on the state's website.

Screenshot of the state's map of EEE risk taken on Aug. 3, 2020.
Screenshot of the state's map of EEE risk taken on Aug. 3, 2020.

Last year, Massachusetts saw the highest number of cases of EEE since the 1950s: 12 people in the state were diagnosed, six of them died. Officials are on alert that 2020 will be another active year for EEE, WBUR reported in June. The disease can cause brain damage, and kills over a third of those who contract it.

Last month, Gov. Charlie Baker signed a law that gives the State Reclamation and Mosquito Control Board new powers to fight mosquito-borne illnesses like EEE and West Nile Virus when DPH determines there is an elevated risk. DPH said Monday it is "working with the local health departments, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, and local Mosquito Control Projects to coordinate surveillance and appropriate public health response activities."

Officials said people across Massachusetts should use mosquito repellents with an EPA-registered active ingredient, wear long sleeves and long pants when outdoors to reduce exposed skin, and stay aware of mosquito activity in the community.

With reporting by WBUR's Newscast Unit and State House News Service's Colin A. Young

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