- Department of Public Health
Media Contact for State public health officials raise risk level for EEE to high in two southeastern communities
Ann Scales, Director of Media Relations
BOSTON — The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced that the risk level for eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus in the communities of Carver and Middleborough in southeastern Massachusetts has been increased from moderate to high.
This risk level increase follows additional EEE positive mosquito samples. EEE virus has been found in 16 mosquito samples this year. No human or animal cases of EEE have been detected so far this year.
“The mosquito surveillance results indicate that the virus activity has increased in one area in southeastern Massachusetts,” said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH. “We want people to be aware that the EEE virus is present in mosquitoes in the area and are encouraging residents to take steps to avoid mosquito bites.”
DPH is working with the local communities, local Mosquito Control Projects, and other mosquito control experts to coordinate surveillance and discuss appropriate public health response activities.
The EEE virus also has been confirmed this year in tested mosquito samples in Franklin County, which increased the risk level of EEE to moderate in the communities of Orange, Athol, Wendell and New Salem. The town of Plympton in Plymouth County is also at moderate risk for EEE.
Information about current mosquito activity will continue to be updated regularly and can be found here.
There were 12 human cases of EEE in Massachusetts in 2019.
“We always take EEE very seriously,” said DPH State Epidemiologist Dr. Catherine Brown. “It is important for residents to know that in communities at high risk for EEE, we encourage use of mosquito repellent and scheduling outdoor events to avoid the hours between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes most likely to spread EEE are most active.”
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 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 either draining or discarding items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty any 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 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 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.
More information, including all West Nile virus and EEE positive results, can be found on the Arbovirus Surveillance Information web page or by calling the DPH Epidemiology Program at 617-983-6800.