Support the news
A second human case of the mosquito-borne virus Eastern Equine Encephalitis — more commonly known as EEE — has been confirmed in the state, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
A woman in her 60s was found to be exposed to the virus in Hampden County, the department announced in a statement on Saturday. The first case of 2020 was confirmed earlier this month in Plymouth County.
EEE is a potentially fatal disease that can cause brain damage. Cases hit a high last year in Massachusetts that the state hadn't seen since the 50s. In 2019, 12 people were diagnosed with the infection and six people died.
As a result of the most recent case, the state has raised the EEE risk level to "critical" in the town of Wilbraham. Hampden and Monson have been raised to a "high" risk level.
Chicopee, East Longmeadow, Ludlow, Palmer, and Springfield have been raised to "moderate" risk.
Overall, three cities or towns in the Commonwealth are at "critical" risk of EEE, eight are at "high" risk, and 20 are at "moderate" risk, the Department of Public Health (DPH) said on Saturday.
"EEE virus has been found in 65 mosquito samples this year, over 70 percent of them in species of mosquitoes capable of spreading the virus to people," the DPH said. More information on "current mosquito activity" and an aerial mosquito spray map is available on the department's website.
"All residents are reminded to use mosquito repellent any time they are outside," said the department, "and those in high and critical risk communities are advised to schedule their outdoor activity to avoid the dusk to dawn hours to reduce exposure to the mosquitoes most likely to spread EEE."
Support the news