SUDBURY, Mass. (WPRI) — The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has raised the risk level of eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) infection in several towns including Sudbury, where a 5-year-old girl tested positive for the virus.
Two new human cases of EEE were reported on Friday: the Sudbury girl and a woman in her 60s from eastern Worcester County, bringing the state’s total to seven on the year so far.
Sudbury officials say the girl is currently in critical condition as she’s treated at an area hospital.
Fact Sheet: Signs & Symptoms of Mosquito-Borne Diseases »
The risk level for the EEE virus has been raised to critical for Framingham, Marlborough, Northborough, and Sudbury, according to the health department, while Berlin, Boylston, Hudson, Maynard, Stow, and Wayland have been deemed high-risk.
Thirty-six Massachusetts cities and towns are now considered critical risk, 42 are considered high risk, and 115 are considered moderate risk. The state has sprayed and will continue to spray for mosquitoes in these communities.
Officials say the EEE virus has been detected in 400 mosquito samples this year. There have also been nine confirmed cases of EEE in animals: eight horses and one goat.
While temperatures have cooled off, health officials continue to urge residents to stay vigilant and take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
The threat of mosquito-borne illnesses typically lasts until the first hard frost.
Sudbury officials advised all residents to strongly consider rescheduling or canceling any outdoor activities between dusk and dawn until further notice.
More information from the Mass. Department of Public Health:
Avoid Mosquito Bites
Apply Insect Repellent When Outdoors: Use a repellent with an EPA-registered ingredient (DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-methane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] or IR3535) according to the instructions on the product label. DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age and should be used in concentrations of 30% or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age.
Be Aware of Peak Mosquito Hours: The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning in areas of high risk.
Clothing Can Help Reduce Mosquito Bites: Wearing long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.
Mosquito-Proof Your Home
Drain Standing Water: Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by draining or discarding items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty unused flowerpots and wading pools and change the water in birdbaths frequently.
Install or Repair Screens: Keep mosquitoes outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all of your windows and doors.
Protect Your Animals
Animal owners should reduce potential mosquito breeding sites on their property by eliminating standing water from containers such as buckets, tires, and wading pools – especially after heavy rains.
Water troughs should be flushed out at least once a week during the summer months to reduce mosquitoes near paddock areas.
Horse owners should keep horses in indoor stalls at night to reduce their risk of exposure to mosquitoes.
Owners should also speak with their veterinarian about mosquito repellents approved for use in animals and vaccinations to prevent WNV and EEE.
If an animal is suspected of having WNV or EEE, owners are required to report to DAR, Division of Animal Health by calling 617-626-1795 and to the Department of Public Health (DPH) by calling 617-983-6800.