State Health Officials Announce First EEE-Positive Mosquitoes of the Season
Residents urged to cover up, wear bug spray to avoid getting bitten
BOSTON — The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced that Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus has been detected in mosquitoes in Massachusetts for the first time this year in testing done at the Hinton State Laboratory Institute. The mosquito samples were collected on July 15 in the town of Bridgewater in Plymouth County.
This finding raises the risk level in the town of Bridgewater to moderate. This is a routine risk level change and does not include a recommendation to avoid evening outdoor events at this time; but reducing exposure to mosquitoes is always recommended. The adjacent towns of West Bridgewater, Easton, Raynham and Middleborough are already at moderate based on last year’s EEE activity.
“EEE is an annual occurrence in Massachusetts,” said DPH State Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Catherine Brown. “These were mammal-biting mosquitoes, and the findings should remind residents of the area to cover up and apply insect repellent when outdoors.”
There have been no human cases of West Nile virus (WNV) or EEE so far this year. Last year, there was one case of EEE acquired by a Massachusetts resident. EEE is usually spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. EEE is a serious disease in all ages and can even cause death.
People have an important role to play in protecting themselves and their loved ones from illnesses caused by mosquitoes.
Avoid Mosquito Bites
Apply Insect Repellent when Outdoors
Use a repellent with 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.
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 either draining or discarding items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty any unused flowerpots and wading pools, and change 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 provide excellent mosquito breeding habitats and 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 diagnosed with 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.
More information, including all WNV and EEE positive results, can be found on the Arbovirus Surveillance Information web page at www.mass.gov/dph/mosquito or by calling the DPH Epidemiology Program at 617-983-6800.
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