Wednesday, October 2, 2019

State officials announce 8th EEE horse case in Massachusetts

Personal protection measures continue to be essential 

BOSTON (October 2, 2019)—The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced that laboratory testing has confirmed the 8th horse infected with Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus this year. The horse was stabled in the town of Spencer in Worcester County, a community already considered at high risk for EEE.

No change in risk levels is indicated. There are 35 communities now at critical risk, 53 at high risk, and 121 at moderate risk for the EEE virus in Massachusetts. A map of the state’s current EEE risk levels can be found here.

“We continue to emphasize the need for people to protect themselves from mosquito bites,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Catherine Brown. “Although mosquito populations are beginning to decline, risk from EEE will continue until the first hard frost.”

There have been 12 human cases of EEE this season in Massachusetts and nine confirmed cases of EEE this year in animals - eight horses and a goat.

State officials continue to remind residents throughout the Commonwealth to take personal precautions to prevent mosquito bites. Residents can learn more about EEE and ways to protect themselves on DPH’s website.

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 2004-2006 and 2010-2012.
EEE virus has been found in 426 mosquito samples this year, many of them from species of mosquitoes capable of spreading the virus to people. An additional 76 mosquitos have tested positive for WNV.

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. 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 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.

Protect Your Animals