Mass. Officials Announce 1st West Nile Death

A Worcester man has died of West Nile virus, the second death from mosquito-borne illness in Massachusetts this summer and the first from West Nile since 2005, state health officials said Friday.

The Department of Public Health said the man in his 60s also had "severe underlying medical conditions" when diagnosed last month.

Another Worcester County man in his 70s, from Westborough, died of Eastern equine encephalitis, officials had reported earlier. A southeastern Massachusetts man died of EEE last year.

Health officials also announced three new West Nile cases in women ranging from their 50s to their 70s: two from the Boston area and one from Middlesex County, which has had the most cases. All are recovering.

Officials also said EEE has been newly confirmed in a horse.

There have been 13 cases of West Nile, up from six last year, and two of EEE, one which may have been contracted outside Massachusetts. There also were two EEE cases last year. Two of this year's West Nile cases have been in the western part of the state.

"Taken together, all of these findings point to the fact that the threat of mosquito-borne illness is very real in Massachusetts no matter where you live," DPH State Epidemiologist Dr. Al DeMaria said Friday.

State health officials raised the statewide mosquito threat level to "moderate" and added more communities considered at higher risk.

Officials raised the EEE threat to "critical" for Westborough and "high" in six nearby communities, and also for Mattapoisett in southeastern Massachusetts. The West Nile risk was raised to "high" in Worcester, Auburn and Methuen.

Health officials have urged high-risk communities to cancel outdoor evening events, and say everyone should take precautions such as using insect repellent until the first hard frost. Aerial spraying for mosquitoes has been conducted in southeastern Massachusetts.

Massachusetts authorities say the conditions are likely related to the early spring and hot summer.

Hundreds of West Nile cases and dozens of deaths have been reported around the country.

This program aired on September 8, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.


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