SOUTHBRIDGE, Mass. (WWLP) – The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has detected Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in mosquitoes from Worcester County, the first time in the state this year.

Mosquito samples that tested positive for EEE was collected on Wednesday in Southbridge and Douglas. The last time EEE was discovered in Massachusetts was in 2020. There have been no human or animal cases of EEE detected so far this year.

The discovery of this virus has increased the risk level of EEE to moderate in the following towns:

  • Douglas
  • Dudley
  • Southbridge
  • Sturbridge
  • Uxbridge
  • Webster

Public Health Commissioner Robert Goldstein stated, “This is a late season emergence for EEE which should keep the risk level from rising too much or too quickly. However, some risk from mosquito-borne disease will continue until the first hard frost and people should take steps to prevent mosquito bites.”

While EEE is rare, it is a serious and potentially deadly disease that spreads through the bite of a mosquito. There were 12 human cases in the state in 2019 and a total of six people died. In 2020, there were five human cases with one death.

Tips to avoid mosquito bites:

  • Avoid spending extended periods of time outdoors from dusk to dawn – the time when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Wear long clothing to keep mosquitoes away from your skin
  • Use EPA-approved insect repellents.
  • Make sure screens in windows and doors fit properly and there are no holes.
  • Regularly empty out and clean bird baths, unused flower pots, and other containers that may keep standing water to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. 
  • Regularly clean out gutters

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