Methuen halting all evening activity on city property after EEE risk raised to critical

METHUEN, MASS. (WHDH) - The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced Monday that Methuen is now at critical risk for Eastern Equine Encephalitis after a horse tested positive for the virus and died, and city officials canceled evening activities as they prepare for spraying.

A positive EEE test in an animal automatically raises the threat level for EEE to critical in a community, according to health officials.

In the wake of the development, Methuen Mayor James Jajuga said he plans to meet with the city’s emergency management team to discuss measures to curb the virus.

Jajuga canceled evening activities in the city, saying all outdoor events and games on city property will have a hard end time of 7 p.m. until Sept. 30, and a hard end time of 6 p.m. afterward until the first hard frost.

Areas west of I-93 will be sprayed Wednesday evening, and city officials are requesting the entire city be sprayed as well.

Jajuga says the city is following Department of Public Health guidelines and advising all residents to limit outdoor exposure after sundown.

“We are very concerned about the critical EEE designation. It is not common for a community in Essex County to face this level of concern for the virus, so we feel it is extremely important to gather our leadership team this afternoon and make sure we have a strategy and messaging plan in place that will offer responsible guidelines to all Methuen residents and business owners,” Jajuga said in a press release.

A woman who was being treated for Eastern Equine Encephalitis at Tufts Medical Center in Boston died over the weekend.

There have been four human cases of EEE in Massachusetts this year.

Health officials said 37 communities have been found to be at high or critical risk for EEE.

The risk level for EEE was raised from moderate to high on Monday as well.

(Copyright (c) 2020 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)