A third Massachusetts resident has been hospitalized for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), this time a female under the age of 18 in Western Massachusetts, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
Based on this finding, the EEE threat level has been raised in several towns in Franklin County and Worcester County. The EEE threat level has been raised to “Critical” in Athol, Orange, and Royalston, and to “High” in Erving, Petersham, Phillipston, Templeton, Warwick, Wendell, and Winchendon.
The current EEE threat level for all of Boston is "" Although there have been no cases of EEE in the Boston area to date this year, there have been two cases of West Nile Virus, another mosquito-borne disease, including a and a Cambridge man.
Communities which have been designated at either “Critical” or “High” risk of EEE are urged to cancel all planned evening outdoor events for the remainder of the season until the first hard frost, according to public health officials.
“People sometimes think that the threat of mosquitoes is over when summer ends, but the fact is that mosquitoes continue to be active well into the fall,” said Dr. Al DeMaria, epidemiologist for the Department of Public Health. “That’s why it’s so important that we stay on guard against mosquito bites – use insect repellant, cover up exposed skin, and avoid outdoor activities at dusk and nighttime when mosquitoes are at their most active. “
There have now been three confirmed human cases of EEE in Massachusetts residents this year, including one case that resulted in the death of a Worcester man in his 70s. There were two cases of EEE in August of last year acquired in Massachusetts; a fatal case in a Bristol County man and an infection in a tourist from out of state.
You have an important role to play in in protecting yourself and your loved ones from illnesses caused by mosquitoes:
Avoid Mosquito Bites
- Apply Insect Repellent when Outdoors. Use a repellent with 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.
- 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 either draining or discarding items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty any unused flowerpots and wading pools, and change water in birdbaths frequently.
- Install or Repair Screens. Keep mosquitoes outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all of your windows and doors.
Protect Your Animals
Animal owners should reduce potential mosquito breeding sites on their property by eliminating standing water from containers such as buckets, tires, and wading pools — especially after heavy rains. Water troughs provide excellent mosquito breeding habitats and should be flushed out at least once a week during the summer months to reduce mosquitoes near paddock areas. Horse owners should keep horses in indoor stalls at night to reduce their risk of exposure to mosquitoes. Owners should also speak with their veterinarian about mosquito repellents approved for use in animals and vaccinations to prevent WNV and EEE. If an animal is diagnosed with WNV or EEE, owners are required to report to DAR, Division of Animal Health by calling 617-626-1795 and to the Department of Public Health (DPH) by calling 617-983-6800.