RI Man Found To Have Equine Encephalitis

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Public health officials in Massachusetts and Rhode Island have announced this summer's first case of eastern equine encephalitis (EEE)  in a person.

A Rhode Island man is hospitalized in critical condition with the illness — and health officials say he's facing a serious health battle.

"Often higher than 40 percent of the people who become infected with EEE die and those that survive often survive with serious neurological impairment," said John Auerbach, Commissioner for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Auerbach said it appears the man, who has not been identified for privacy reasons, was exposed to EEE in Southeastern Massachusetts about two weeks ago, before aerial spraying for mosquitoes began last week.

"All of the communities that were at high risk in Massachusetts were covered by the aerial spraying," Auerbach said.

Still, he said Bay Staters should continue to be cautious about mosquitoes.

"Even though the results have been very successful about the impact of the spraying on mosquitoes, it is important that people take every precaution to prevent the exposure to EEE," Auerbach said.

Officials say aerial spraying from Aug. 5 to 7 has reduced the mosquito population by 80 percent and the number of mammal-biting mosquitoes by 90 percent. Mammal-biting mosquitoes pose the greatest risk to humans.


This program aired on August 15, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.