Risk level raised to ‘critical’ in 9 Bay State communities after confirmed human EEE case

BOSTON (WHDH) - Massachusetts public health officials have increased the threat level to “critical” in 9 Bay State communities after the first confirmed human case of the Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus since 2013.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health says that laboratory testing confirmed EEE in a male over the age of 60 from southern Plymouth County.

“Today’s news is evidence of the significant risk from EEE and we are asking residents to take this risk very seriously,” said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH. “We will continue to monitor this situation and the impacted communities.”

The nine communities now at critical risk are Carver, Lakeville, Marion, Middleborough, Rochester, Wareham, Freetown, and New Bedford.

DPH and the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources announced this week they would be conducting and monitoring aerial spraying in specific areas of Bristol and Plymouth counties to reduce the mosquito population and public health risk.

Aerial spraying began August 8 and is expected to continue throughout the weekend during the evening and overnight hours.

Health officials are reminding residents that they should still use mosquito repellent and consider staying indoors during the dusk to dawn hours to reduce exposure to mosquitoes.

In addition to the nine communities now at critical risk, 15 communities in southeastern Massachusetts have been determined by DPH to be at high risk for the EEE virus and 18 at moderate risk.

EEE is a rare but serious and potentially fatal disease that can affect people of all ages.

EEE virus has been found in 227 mosquito samples this year, many of them from species of mosquitoes capable of spreading the virus to people.

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