EEE risk level raised to critical in Hampden, Hampshire County communities

Health

GRANBY, Mass. (WWLP) – There are new concerns about EEE in western Massachusetts after a horse in Granby tested positive for the virus. 

The town of Granby has now been elevated to a critical risk level, the highest there is, meaning there is an excessive risk from the virus, according to the state Health Department. 

Though rare, EEE has already been deadly this season, killing one woman, and infecting at least three other people so far, including one man in Franklin County. A horse in Granby tested positive for EEE, putting community members on high alert. 

Four new cases of EEE virus confirmed in horses

Belchertown, Brimfield, Chicopee, Ludlow, and South Hadley were all elevated to high-risk level by state health officials. Granby Public Schools announced outdoor activity schedules are being adjusted to avoid peak mosquito periods of dawn and dusk. 

“Kids from high school run here and practice here every year,” said Kate Ruscio of Granby. “I mean I’ll miss seeing the runners, but you don’t even know when they’ve been bitten or when you’ve been bit, so you need to be pretty proactive about spraying yourself.” 

Agawam is still listed as only moderate risk, but their health department announced mosquitos there tested positive for the virus. Symptoms of the disease include fever, stiff neck, and headache. 

The head of the Pioneer Valley Mosquito Control District said EEE infection can be far more serious than West Nile. 

“The survival rate is a little bit less and the severity of the disease is harder,” said the head of the organization. “It does have long term ‘sequalae’ they call it, so there are things that could impact you the rest of your life if you contract EEE.” 

Bug spray, long sleeves, and repairing window screens can all help avoid bites, the best thing you can do to avoid the virus. 

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