BOSTON — The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) announced that laboratory testing has confirmed the 12th human case of eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus infection, a woman in her 70s from Hampden County. The patient is currently hospitalized.
As a result, the communities of Agawam, East Longmeadow, Longmeadow, Southwick, Springfield, West Springfield, and Westfield have been elevated to high risk.
There are 35 communities now at critical risk, 53 at high risk, and 121 at moderate risk for the EEE virus in Massachusetts. In addition to the 12 human cases of EEE this season in Massachusetts, there have also been eight confirmed cases of EEE this year in animals — seven horses and a goat.
“Although mosquito populations are declining, the weather is keeping them active,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Catherine Brown said. “We continue to emphasize the need for people to protect themselves from mosquito bites.”
EEE is a rare but serious and potentially fatal disease that can affect people of all ages. EEE occurs sporadically in Massachusetts, with the most recent outbreak years occurring from 2004 to 2006 and 2010 to 2012. There were 22 human cases of EEE infection during those two outbreak periods.
EEE virus has been found in 422 mosquito samples this year, many of them from species of mosquitoes capable of spreading the virus to people. An additional 83 mosquitos have tested positive for West Nile virus.