HCN News & Notes

State Public Health Officials Announce First Human Case of EEE

BOSTON — The Mass. Department of Public Health (DPH) recently announced that laboratory testing confirmed the first case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus infection, in a male over 60 from southern Plymouth County. This is the first human case of EEE in Massachusetts since 2013. The risk level in nine communities has been raised to critical as a result.

“Today’s news is evidence of the significant risk from EEE and we are asking residents to take this risk very seriously,” said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH. “We will continue to monitor this situation and the impacted communities.”

The nine communities now at critical risk are Carver, Lakeville, Marion, Middleborough, Rochester, and Wareham in Plymouth County and Acushnet, Freetown, and New Bedford in Bristol County.

This week DPH and the Mass. Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) announced they would be conducting and monitoring aerial spraying in specific areas of Bristol and Plymouth counties to reduce the mosquito population and public health risk. Aerial spraying began August 8 and was expected to continue throughout the weekend during evening and overnight hours.

Although the scheduled aerial spray is designed to help reduce the risk of EEE throughout the area, residents are reminded that they should use mosquito repellent and consider staying indoors during the dusk to dawn hours to reduce exposure to mosquitoes.

In addition to the nine communities now at critical risk, 15 communities in southeastern Massachusetts have been determined by DPH to be at high risk for the EEE virus and 18 at moderate risk.