EEE Risk Is Now "Critical" in Many Massachusetts Communities

Henrietta Brewer
August 31, 2019

So we're not at the level of an out-of-the-ordinary national outbreak yet, and EEE remains rare, though it seems likely 2019 will be an above-average year for the disease, which the CDC says is typically seen from late spring through early fall, with a few rare winter cases in subtropical endemic areas like the Gulf states.

The woman who passed has been identified as Laurie Sylvia.

State officials also informed animal owners that a vaccine for EEE and West Nile virus is available for horses, and they encouraged those that have not been vaccinated in the last six months to get the initial shot or a booster.

The "critical risk" distinction prompts the state to advise those communities to consider canceling or rescheduling outdoor gatherings, including organized sporting events, to avoid peak mosquito hours. Four human cases of "Triple E" have been confirmed so far in MA this year, and earlier this week, a Fairhaven woman died while being treated for the virus.

State health officials want MA residents and their visitors to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites during their Labor Day weekend activities.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced that laboratory testing has confirmed a case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus infection in a female over the age of 50 who is a resident of southern Bristol County.

Of that number, 28 communities are at critical risk, the highest alert.

Apply Insect Repellent when Outdoors.

The Eastern equine encephalitis virus is transmitted through mosquito bites. Wearing long-sleeves, long trousers and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin. Keep mosquitoes outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all of your windows and doors.

Eliminate mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flowerpots, buckets, barrels, and other containers.

'Horses and other mammals are an important part of mosquito-borne disease surveillance because they are exposed by the same kinds of mosquitoes that can expose people, ' said State Epidemiologist Dr Catherine Brown. Horse owners should keep horses in indoor stalls at night to reduce their risk of exposure to mosquitoes.

The spike in infections has prompted the MSPCA to launch an emergency clinic for horses across the Merrimack Valley whose owners can not afford the vaccination.

EEE is not transmissible person-to-person, horse-to-human, or horse-to-horse.

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