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This past week, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) announced that laboratory testing has confirmed two new cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus infection, a woman in her 60s from eastern Worcester County and a female under the age of 18 from southwestern Middlesex County. This brings the total number of human cases of EEE to seven this year in Massachusetts.
Even though temperatures have cooled off, it is not unusual to see human EEE cases confirmed in September,” said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH. ``This is why we continue to urge the public to take seriously the threat that mosquitos can pose and to take steps to avoid being bitten.”
All residents throughout the Commonwealth should continue to use mosquito repellent
Residents can learn more about EEE and about ways to protect themselves on DPH’s website:
EEE is a rare but serious disease that can affect people of all ages. EEE occurs sporadically in Massachusetts with the most recent outbreak years occurring from 2004-2006 and 2010-2012. There were 22 human cases of EEE infection during those two outbreak periods.
In Massachusetts, EEE virus has been found in 400 mosquito samples this year, many of them from species of mosquitoes capable of spreading the virus to people. There have also been nine confirmed cases of EEE this year in animals; eight horses and one goat.
People have an important role to play in protecting themselves and their loved ones from illnesses caused by mosquitoes:
Avoid Mosquito Bites
Apply Insect Repellent when Outdoors. Use a repellent with an EPA-registered ingredient (DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-methane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] or IR3535) according to the instructions on the product label. DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age and should be used in concentrations of 30% or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age.
Be Aware of Peak Mosquito Hours. The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning in areas of high risk.
Clothing Can Help Reduce Mosquito Bites. Wearing long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.
Mosquito-Proof Your Home
Drain Standing Water. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by draining or discarding items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty unused flowerpots and wading pools and change the water in birdbaths frequently.
Install or Repair Screens. Keep mosquitoes outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all of your windows and doors.
For the most up-to-date information, Q&As, and downloadable fact sheets residents may visit the DPH webpage https://www.mass.gov/guides/eee-in-massachusetts.
Manchester Board of Health Office
This article contains information provided by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health