BELCHERTOWN, Mass (WWLP) - Wednesday the Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced the first case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in a horse this year, in an animal which was stabled in Belchertown.
This is Belchertown's second EEE infected horse in two years. This has caused EEE threat level to be raised to "Critical" in Belchertown and to "Moderate" in Granby, Ludlow, New Salem, Palmer, Pelham and Ware.
The DPH urges communities designated as "Critical" to cancel evening outdoor events for the remainder of the mosquito season.
The Centers for Disease and Control says a third of those who develop EEE die. On Tuesday, Hampshire County health officials announced they have found mosquitoes infected with EEE in both Northampton and Amherst. There have been no human cases reported yet.
"There's a slight concern. I tend to think people, it's a little overblown. I know that if you are elderly or very vulnerable in terms of your immune system it could present challenges," said Joel Kaminsky of Northampton.
Mom of two, Megan Mascaro, told 22News that protecting her daughters is important. "We use a natural remedy called crushed Chrysanthemum. We have someone come every month to sprinkle around our yard. So at least our yard is safe. We usually protect with long sleeves, long pants, and try to cover exposed areas," said Mascaro in Northampton on Wednesday.
Experts at the Hadley Garden Center say there are many ways to mosquito-proof your homes. But one of the most effective is to drain standing water.
"Get rid of all the water sources around your yard that you can. Bird baths and buckets or anything that may have collected water can be breeding a habitat for mosquitoes," said the center's manager, Dan Ziomeck.
For a public health fact sheet on repellents click here.