HOLLISTON, MASS. (WHDH) - The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced Thursday that the risk level for Eastern Equine Encephalitis has been raised to critical in four towns after horses in the communities tested positive for the potentially fatal virus.

Holliston, Medfield, Brookfield, and Granby are now at critical risk for EEE. In total, twenty-eight communities in Massachusetts are now at critical risk.

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

In Belchertown, Brimfield, Chicopee, East Brookfield, Ludlow, Medway, Millis, North Brookfield, Sherborn, South Hadley, Sturbridge, Walpole, and West Brookfield, the risk level has been raised to high.

Officials have recommended that all outdoor activities between dusk and dawn be curtailed in the towns.

“As we head into the Labor Day weekend and the month of September people should not forget to bring and use an EPA-approved mosquito repellent for any outdoor activities,” said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel. “The peak time for transmission of mosquito-borne illness extends through September here in Massachusetts.”

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.

EEE virus has been found in 366 mosquito samples this year, many of them from species of mosquitoes capable of spreading the virus to people.

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