Officials: 5-year-old Sudbury girl in critical condition after contracting EEE virus

SUDBURY, MASS. (WHDH) - A 5-year-old Sudbury girl is hospitalized in critical condition after she tested positive for the potentially fatal Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus, prompting the town to raise the threat level for the disease to critical, town officials announced Friday.

RELATED: Health officials confirm 2 more human cases of EEE in Massachusetts

The girl is being treated at an area hospital and as a result of her confirmed case, the risk level for EEE has been raised to critical in Framingham, Marlborough, Northborough, and Sudbury.

A positive EEE test in a human automatically raises the threat level for EEE to critical in a community.

On Friday, health officials also announced that a woman in her 60s from Worcester County had been infected, bringing the total number of human cases in the state to seven.

A woman who was being treated for EEE at Tufts Medical Center last month passed away.

EEE is a rare, but serious virus that causes brain infections and other neurological problems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sudbury town officials are urging all residents to “strongly consider” canceling or rescheduling any planned outdoor activities between dusk and dawn until further notice.

“It’s scary, it is a very serious illness and what we want people to know is that they have some control over what they can do to reduce their risk,” a town health official said. “Those precautions have been posted and when people follow those precautions, they can significantly reduce their risk for them and their children.”

The Sudbury Health Department says it is working in close collaboration with the East Middlesex Mosquito Control Project to determine the times and locations where spraying will take place.

Spraying will first target school grounds, parks, and fields, and will be completed over the course of next week, officials said. All Sudbury streets will be sprayed by Tuesday evening.

Effective immediately, all outdoor activities at schools in the town will be canceled.

Both the Sudbury Public Schools and Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School are planning on sending letters home to parents detailing response plans.

In total, there are 36 communities now at critical risk, 42 at high risk, and 115 at moderate risk for the EEE virus in Massachusetts.

A map of the state’s current EEE risk levels can be found here.

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