SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) — A human case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or EEE, has been confirmed in a man older than 60 from southern Plymouth County, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The state did not say exactly which town the man lives in, though.
EEE is a mosquito borne illness that’s rare, serious, and potentially deadly. This is the first human case in Massachusetts since 2013.
The DPH is now urging people to protect themselves from mosquitoes.
Using bug spray with DEET, and wearing long-sleeved clothing can help keep the bugs from biting.
Although no one in western Massachusetts as tested positive for the virus, one man told 22News, the mosquitoes are really bad this year – even when he wears bug spray.
“Mosquitoes are everywhere this time of year,” said Thomas Sfreddo of Enfield. “When I try and go fishing down at the Connecticut River, they bother me.”
The DPH said it’s a good idea to avoid outdoor activities during dusk and dawn, and remove any standing water in the yard.
“Most nights, I get eaten alive,” said Leah Shea of Westfield. “I put on a lot of bug spray.”
The risk level in nine communities has been raised to critical as a result of the human case.
State Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel said Saturday the incident is evidence of the significant risk from EEE and the need for the public to take the risk seriously.
Nine communities are now at critical risk including Carver, Lakeville, Marion, Middleborough, Rochester, and Wareham in Plymouth County and Acushnet, Freetown, and New Bedford in Bristol County.
State officials said aerial spraying in areas of Bristol and Plymouth counties began August 8 and should continue throughout the weekend during evening and overnight hours.